WE ARE deeply saddened by the conduct of eight Grade 12 pupils at Kapiri Girls National Technical School who have been expelled for being in possession of mobile phones against the school regulations.
What is more disheartening is that these girls are not only guilty of being in possession of mobiles but the gadgets were found with obscene videos and pictures – pornography.
This is not only an abrogation of the school regulations but of the Zambian laws as well.
Section 177 of the penal code of the laws of Zambia forbids possession of obscene materials.
What on earth were schoolgirls doing with obscene materials? Of what value are these obscene materials to their education or personal lives?
Given that these girls are all in examination classes and this is an exam period, we would have thought that they are busy preparing for this crucial stage of their lives.
Instead of preparing for exams for the betterment of their future, these girls were busy with phones polluting their young minds with obscene materials.
The young girls also had the audacity to use the same phones to film and circulate the gang-beating of a fellow pupil just like in the Ichengelo School saga where two pupils were expelled for the offence.
These girls are not only a disgrace to their school but to parents who sent them there with the hope that they would emerge from their studies with decent qualifications that would gain them entry into higher education institutions.
Pupils need to understand that school regulations such as the one which forbids them from being in possession of mobile phones are meant to safeguard their education and future.
It is a well-known fact that phones can be distract for pupils from their studies. This is why all schools in the country forbid pupils from having phones on the premises.
And for schools of a high calibre like Kapiri Girls National Technical School, their aim is always to produce high calibre graduates to maintain their good image and legacy of good performance.
It is therefore not surprising that anything that threatens their legacy of good performance and reputation is dealt with in a severe manner.
This is why the school did not hesitate to expel the eight erring pupils in accordance with school regulations.
While we believe that wrongs must be punished to deter further deviance and would-be offenders, the school authorities should consider the proposal of Kapiri Mposhi district commissioner, Peter Mwiinde, to allow the pupils sit for their Grade 12 examinations.
We know that the school authorities are concerned about the influence these pupils may have on their colleagues. However given that examinations are already in progress, it means these pupils will be out of school soon.
The school authorities should therefore look at the bigger picture of the impact of these girls dropping out of school on their families and the country as whole.
We know that Government and other stakeholders are working to ensure that more girls access an education. However, this is not a licence for girls to commit offences at free will.
This is why we recommend that instead of expelling them, the school authorities should find alternative punishment.
This is because as young people who may still be naïve and gullible to peer pressure, punishment should help them reform instead of crippling them for life by taking education away from them.
The school should therefore consider giving alternative punishment like manual work around the school.
However should the pupils fail or refuse to take this punishment after being allowed to sit for their examinations, then these youngsters and their parents should not blame anyone if the full weight of the law falls on them.
So let the authorities and law enforcement agencies retain and safeguard the evidence – the phones and the respective content which may be used against the culprits.
This case at Kapiri Girls National School should be a wake-up call for other schools to up their game in monitoring the pupils.
Pupils can be very deviant, they therefore need close monitoring.
While teachers may not always be there to monitor pupils, school prefects and monitors can be effective eyes of the school.
Parents should also take interest and nurture their children in such a way that they will not easily fall prey to peer pressure.
We know that there are also parents in the habit of buying mobile phones for their children and allowing them to take these gadgets to schools despite knowing that this is against regulations.
Such parents should remember that by doing so they are shooting themselves in the foot because they will be the ones at the losing end if their children fail to make the grade or are expelled like in the case of Kapiri Tech girls.
Parents of the Kapiri Tech culprits should also consider counselling to help them understand the magnitude of the problem they have caused and how to move on after the incident has been settled.