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You are here for a purpose

by Lesotho Times

With trembling hands, Palesa grabs the paper and tries to go off into a corner —  her peace is in that corner, maybe there she will calm down and stop trembling. As she makes her way through, she is shoved from side to side by eager bodies, all clamouring to get to the source of the paper.

One individual tries to grab the paper out of her sweating palm, but she is quick to the draw and hurriedly folds it and shoves it under her jacket — still making her way to the corner.

The faces around her swim in and out of her line of vision, but none are recognisable — not that she would know anyone really, but she does not even make them out as human; all she sees now  is the corner!

That corner looks like a sanctuary — a refuge; away from the screeching voices of the nameless mouths, some already brandishing papers, some bellowing for the source to hurry up!

Finally, after what feels like a trek of the century, the corner is right in front of her. She sits down, and nearly has a heart attack when she cannot feel the paper under the jacket — then she realizes she was searching on the right not left side! She takes it out and frantically pages through to the right page — the name of her school.

With a wry smile, she reflects how these past five years were such a whirlwind and three-quarters.

She can barely recognize herself from the shy barely pubescent teenager in an ill-fitting tunic and oversized white shirt — hunched under the weight of all the books on her list.

Being teased for that and getting into her first fight when some silly boy laughed at her school bag!

To this past year, when she was Little Miss Popular, the whole school — boys, girls and even the strict principal wrapped around her pretty little finger!

As some of the adventures and misadventures play like a black and white silent movie in her head, Palesa runs her finger from the bottom of the page upwards.

Each name she passes seems foreign to her; even though these are the same people featured in the scenes still playing in her head, people she got into trouble with, laughed with and at one time even made a teacher cry, with.

With a deep sigh of relief, she finishes the FAIL section without the one name she would have recognised — hers. Then it hits her how long this section is, and she takes a second glance; a familiar name jumps out at her!

Oh no! Lineo, her best friend! She is featured here! Oh, all those lies they used to tell of going to each other’s houses to study; only to end up at the mall ogling at rich cute boys caught up with one of them!

Eish! One part of the three musketeers in the fail soup!

OK, no counting chickens yet; there is still the Third Class eggs to go through!

This section seems quite short and she is through with quick, quick – without taking a breathe she plunges to the Second Class section.

Suddenly! It goes dead quiet and with a silent scream, a frightening thought crosses her mind.

“These people lost my results!” In the panicked minute, another name she knows jumps out at her from the Second Class list.

Limakatso? Wow! This is great; considering she nearly popped her baby right in the exam room during their last exam paper.

She breathes a silent prayer and takes anther and even deeper sigh, and tentatively approaches the First Class section. This time she starts right at the top of the list, this proves to save her time because right there, number three, is her name!!

Tears spring to her eyes and with that her senses come back and she finally takes stock of her surroundings! It is chaotic! There are teenagers everywhere — some are sitting right next to her! When did they get to her corner?  There are shrieks of joy from a gaggle of girls on her right, and whoops of elation from a gang of boys a bit further!

There and there, there are forlorn faces; contorted in pain — which can only spell one thing — bad news!

Now, with her full senses back she comes out of her not so hidden hiding place and tries to look for familiar faces; to share her joy with.

Then she remembers, she is a virtual stranger in the village of her birth because her parents sent her to a town school. She heads home!

“This is the beginning of the rest of my life!” Every year, around this time of the year this scenario plays out on our streets;
albeit differently for every learner! We have tons of bo-Palesa, Limakatso and Lineo! The one question that all these and others ask themselves — whether they found their names at the bottom, the top or the middle — is the same: ‘What now?’

In this country, it is a fact that career guidance sucks rotten eggs! Meaning the answer to that question can prove very difficult to answer!

Take for instance our girl Palesa; she finds herself destined for medical school because the only guidance counselors she has ever had are her doting parents.

They took her to the best school they could afford because they want their child to be a doctor.

Now the problem with Palesa is she hates the sight of blood; even her own monthlies give her the hibby-jibies!

So how is she going to make her parents proud?

Truth be told though, that might be the least of her problems! The major one is how does she even get to the school! Look, we all know that the list of tertiary institutions (and courses), both nationally and internationally has been cut down to very marginal numbers (to put it nicely).

This feels like the beginning of a major headache for the few who happen to have some sort of information on which school they
could enroll in, and which career path they want to embark on; as we know our parents struggled to put us through the 12 years of school, now how do they pay for the next few!?

I know information dissemination is rather versatile and has improved from the time I was tracing my finger from the bottom of the page like Palesa; but really now, we all know that it is not all of us that have access to search engines.

Our leaders need to do more! Yes, it is not entirely their bussiness; it lies with every one of us to make a difference, but hey the purse strings are knotted a bit higher up there!

One can do so much ‘pro-bono’ work — with limited reach —their contribution would spread the word faster and effectively because contrary to popular belief, Lesotho is big.

It is a fact that our education system in this country is top —it is not hundreds — but it still beats that of a few countries.

I believe we are still missing a major ingredient of the ‘how’ to pave the paths after the foundations of primary and high school education have been laid! Bathong, so much raw talent and potential is lost and wasted due to wrong career choices caused by the lack of guidance and in some instances lack of opportunities.

Our leaders, not just in the political sense, parents, teachers, business folk, doctors, artists, and all other professionals must come together along with the children, from a young age to create a better version of themselves.

As a plea from a soul that “nearly” got misguided — let us set in place some sort of “early talent detection technique’!

This technique can be set up in schools (as early as possible) so as to help our future leaders to make intelligent choices concerning their futures and ours too!

Come on, you would not want Dr Palesa trying to stitch you up when she might just swoon at any time while sewing you up.

I am sure some schools already have a semblance of such programmes within their curricula, and that is an achievement of note, now the challenge is to widen the scope and reach even the remotest of schools.

Talking about remote schools, there are some (and some are not even in remote parts of the country) which have not been listed in the newspapers and books by reason of really dismal and disappointing performances by their learners in the exams.

According to statistics, we have quite a number of bo-Lineo and worse, those not even featured in the lists!

The question is “What now?’”well, the logical point of reasoning would be “if at first you do not succeed, dust yourself off and try again”.

The moral of the story is – do not give up.

I say this because, we all seem to have the idea that since we have gone to school – passed or failed at it, whichever level – we all have to be hired by someone, by some company.

This school of thought is misleading and to a point is very self-destructive, because the initial idea of getting an education is to open your eyes to the ways of the world, to get out of the box, and mostly to use your God-given brains to think for ourselves and work for ourselves and our people.

Bo-Lineo of this country and beyond, take heart, because, no matter how badly we may get crumpled and dirty (like an old M10 note) — we are not worthless!

So Carpe Diem! Live your life to its full potential; you are in this world for a reason!

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