The Department of Education in Mpumalanga has described the annual “pens down” ritual by school pupils as unruly and reckless.
As the 2022 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams draw to an end, the department urged pupils to refrain from attending or hosting “pens down” parties so that the country does not experience another Enyobeni tavern tragedy.
On June 26, 21 youngsters from Scenery Park in East London lost their lives following a night of partying at the Enyobeni Tavern.
A toxicology report that was released earlier indicated that the youth died from suffocation at the overcrowded tavern.
Reports at that time stated that the 21 pupils from local schools were part of a celebration of the end-of-year exams.
“Past experiences have proven that these parties lead to disastrous consequences due to lack of adult or parental supervision. Overindulgence in alcohol and drug intake is a common feature in these parties,” the department said.
It encouraged learners not to allow peer pressure to get the better of them. “It is wise to choose right and be safe,” it added.
The department also called on parents and community members to work together to denounce the “Pens Down” parties in the strongest terms possible.
It stated that some learners lost their lives as a result of reckless behaviour at such parties.
According to the department, learners risk unplanned pregnancies and contracting sexually transmitted diseases as a result of the “unruly” parties.
Furthermore, parents and guardians were requested to monitor their children’s movements and conduct and strongly discourage them from engaging in such activities.
“Let’s join hands to protect our children and to safeguard their future,” the department said.