South Africa: The Farce of School Prize Giving


Let's take away the absurdity of the school prize-giving system and replace it with one that asks young people to play a positive role in building their communities.

My five-year-old is about to enter formal schooling and the thing we are not looking forward to is the concept of school prize giving. I have a natural distaste for awards such as "best attendance" or "best spirited". Parents, teachers and kids all know that these are B-grade thanks - we need to give something to an average-performing kid and this is the best we could do.

It is a lie we are happy to tell our children. The bigger lie is that we pretend that this is about building the esteem of the child when we give them a prize that has no value.

While many would be agreeing with the ditching of the prizes that are clearly farcical, there is an argument that even the merit-based awards should be dropped. The brightest, smartest, fastest and most talented kids in the school all know they are the brightest, smartest, fastest and most talented, and giving them a trophy is not going to change that.

Imagine giving Usain Bolt a trophy for...

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