Cape Town - It is not every day you find a pupil who is so deeply passionate about his school that he is willing to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper defending its image.
Yameen Motala, a Grade 12 pupil and head boy at Harold Cressy High School in Roeland Street, wrote that he had to set the record straight after his school was mentioned in an article in the Cape Argus last week about drugs and interschool fighting.
The aspiring politician, who joined the school last year, said that too much negative attention was given to “inner-city” schools in the media for issues like drug abuse, while none was given to former Model C schools that experienced the same problems.
“There are a lot of bad things said about the school regarding some issues and people make out as if it is more severe in inner-city schools. This happens despite the school getting good results when it comes to exams. Yes, the school is not what it used to be, but then no school is what it used to be.”
Other schools thought of as better off, had worse problems, yet it was Harold Cressy that got the bad name.
Motala, who is from Walmer Estate, dreams of a future in politics and of making this one of the best countries.
He said the school performed well despite its problems, thanks to dedicated staff and a willingness to achieve.
“With the challenges this school faces, it is amazing what it achieves. It is certainly one of the best schools in the city. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are turned into leaders (here). It is also extremely diverse, with no racial tensions or divisions.
“Pupils are made to feel as though they are part of a family here. There is a dedicated staff that provides classes during holidays. The learners here should feel privileged.”
Principal Khalied Isaacs described Motala as a young man with a unique personality. He was not surprised that he had written the letter.
“He is deeply attracted to social injustice, and wants to see something done about it. Yameen is also uncompromising in his criticism and he will challenge others if they get in his way.
“He is proud of his school… At first the other kids were sceptical about his being such a goody two-shoes, but then they got to know him and the sincerity with which he does things. We are really fond of him here.”
Cape Argus editor Jermaine Craig commented: “The moment I saw his letter, I was struck by Yameen’s frankness and his passion for his school and his community. It’s a testament to him that he challenged us at the Argus to give context to the situation at Harold Cressy, a school (with) a proud reputation of academic and sporting success… It is the kind of interaction we… encourage from our readers, no matter how young or old.”