#JongStemme: Prefects: chosen or bought?


By Bianca Prinsloo

When there are allegations of corruption in government, everyone talks about how justice should be done.

When nepotism occurs in companies, everyone is upset.

When systems and systems collapse due to incompetence, it is talked about around the barbecue fire on Friday night.

But when children are appointed as prefects on the merits of what their parents mean and sponsor for the school, but do not themselves have a strong character or sense of responsibility and justice, then there is silence or sometimes even applause.

If you are a South African citizen, things like corruption, incompetence and unreliable systems are something that come up in conversation somewhere during your week. You know it’s a problem, but it’s nothing new. There must be hope that somewhere in time this will improve and that someone will stand up and use their backbone to take the issues beyond the Friday night barbecue fire.

I just wonder how our schools these days empower the youth to become those people when they themselves have unfair standards, use unreliable systems and look the other way when incompetence leads to mismanagement?

I am not writing this article from the perspective of someone who was never chosen as a prefect, I was a prefect and already realized how corrupt that system is. I’m not talking about all prefects either, because there are always those who deserve it, who have a sense of justice and reap the fruits of their own hard work.

I am writing this article for the academically strong boy who worked hard for four years to keep his place in the top 10 – he has a sense of responsibility. I’m talking about the daughter who stood up for every person who was wronged by a bully – she has a sense of justice. I think of the daughter whose homework is handed in on time every day, has a strong voice in the debate team and orators and manages her own time from the age of 13 – she has a sense of honesty and possesses self-confidence.

Why are they not chosen as prefects?

They are not denied the title of prefect because of other children’s lack of character, self-confidence and sense of responsibility. They are kept from it because of the parents and adults in charge of the process’ lack of sense of responsibility, honesty and reliability. The same adults who discuss our government’s corruption and incompetence around the barbecue fire every weekend.

The following question has not come up in these conversations for a long time:

“When is someone going to step in and do something? When will justice begin to be served?”

Perhaps it is because they have a guilty conscience, have lost hope or know that they are doing nothing to promote justice. But when it is brought up again one day in a conversation, my answer will be: “When the adults who are in charge of our country’s future hold themselves to the standards they want to set for our government.”

Today I want to give hope to the fair, responsible, honest and activist pupils who were not elected prefect. May you continue to be the people who go out and change systems, bring justice and use your voices for the voiceless.

  • Bianca Prinsloo is currently an intern at the Occupational Safety and Health Department of Solidarity while she completes her honors in Business Management.

#JongStemme is a project by RNews and Solidarity Youth that wants to emphasize the youth’s voice in the public domain. Visit Solidarity Youth’s website at www.jeug.co.za for help and advice with your career.

If you are between 18 and 26 years old and want to write an opinion piece, send an email to jeug@solidariteit.co.za and we will be happy to get in touch with you.