Youngsters urged to skip perilous ‘pens down’ parties

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Starting on Monday, close to 900,000 learners will sit for their year-end examinations across the country.

Traditionally, the moment the exams conclude, the “pens down” parties begin to celebrate the end of the grueling examinations.

However, it was a celebration of this nature that resulted in the horrific deaths of 21 school children at Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park, in East London earlier this year.

And to prevent a similar occurrence at the end of the year-end exams, Departments of Education in most provinces have warned learners not to participate in such festivities.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the department has ordered schools in the province not to take part in any “pens down” activities.

Speaking during a briefing to the media on the state of readiness of the provincial department for the matric exams last week, Chief Director for Examinations and Assessments, Dr Raymond Penniston, said the department had the plan to deal with the “pens down” issue.

“The department does have a plan where the head of the department is going to write to all the schools [informing them] that they should refrain from such activity because it does not end well,” he said.

In the Eastern Cape, the provincial Liquor Board launched an “anti-pens down campaign” to warn the youth about alcohol abuse.

Spokesperson Mgwebi Msiya said the organization was extremely worried about the rapidly developing culture of “pens down” events organized to celebrate the end of examinations.

“This campaign will be one of many initiatives to strengthen the fight against underage drinking in the province and ensure that the future of young people is safeguarded.”

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Msiya said the campaign will be one of many initiatives to strengthen the fight against underage drinking in the province and ensure the future of young people is safeguarded.

“The launch will be used as a launchpad for a concerted campaign that will convey a message on the dangers of underage drinking and discourage the culture of pens down’ under the Theme: My Future Matters, Alcohol Must Wait,” he said.

Congress of South African Students deputy KZN chairperson, Mxolisi Mdletshe, said they don’t get why the department wants to get involved in something that is not planned by them.

“We know that there are no spaces in tertiary institutions; kids and parents are only happy because they have completed matric. This is one way of making themselves happy,” said Mdletshe.

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