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It's time for the plan high schools drama competition

by Staff reporter
05 Jun 2016 at 11:15hrs | Views
The Plan High School Drama Competition is upon us once again. This year the competition turns six years and sees over 50 High Schools from Bulawayo and surrounding areas taking part in the competition.

In the past schools from as far as Kwekwe, Masvingo, Matopos, Tsholotsho and Victoria Falls have taken part in this competition that uses drama to advocate for children's rights. What is mostly unique about the Plan High Schools Drama Competition is its emphasis on child participation.

The competition believes that the child should be at the centre of the creative process of the drama pieces that form part of the competition. This is a competition that seeks to amplify children's voices in matters of their rights.

The competition is not a random occurrence. It is planned. And each edition is aligned to a specific child rights related theme. In the past schools have tackled topics such as Too Young To Mary, Because of I am Girl, Second Chance, Differently abled. The children's presentations have been quite eye -opening. Children have come up with shocking stories – obvious stories based on what they see every day in their different communities. The aim of the competition has always been to empower students/children with child rights information and encouraging them to be involved in fighting for their own rights – through the use of drama in this case.

This year's theme is no different. It focuses on children. The official theme for this year is Absentee Parents. The focus here is mainly on the effects of absentee parenting on children. We are all aware that there are many children that are growing up separated from their parents for many reasons.

This is what this year's competition is about. To prepare the schools for the competition the organizers of the competition, Plan Zimbabwe and Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo, held a three day workshop for teachers and students. Representatives from Child Line and Contact Family Counselling Services made presentations on the theme.

The following were discussed in workshop:

1. Definitions of a Parent, Child and Absenteeism.
2. Roles which parents must play.
3. Children's responsibilities.
4. Causes of Absenteeism.
5. Effects of absenteeism on children.
6. Possible solutions to the problem of absenteeism.

The discussions with children were lively, and very interactive. A parent was loosely defined as a father or mother to a child. This definition was also extended to non-biological parents. A child was defined as any being below the age of 18 who is still not capable of looking after himself/herself. Someone who depends on someone for his/her wellbeing. Lastly, absentee parents were described as parents/guardians that are either physically not there in the life of a child or physically there but not playing their parental role and not contributing anything positive to the child's life. Please note that the definitions above were given by participants and are not academic definitions

The Role of Parents were described as following:
1. To provide security
2. To love the child/children
3. To provide basic needs
4. Love
5. Guidance and direction
6. Values

The facilitators went over each role with the participants. Giving examples where the role is played well and where it is not. Students also made their contributions, taping from their own experiences. Strangely, most participants came up with very good examples of bad parenting and few examples of good parenting. Maybe a reflection of the current realities.

After parental roles were explained the facilitator moved to absenteeism and its causes. The causes were numerous and some of them were given as divorce or separation, death, moving to greener pastures, abuse of drugs and alcohol, demanding careers, serious illness and men denying paternity. Short discussions around each cause were held to make sure participants understood exactly what had been said by the facilitators. After the causes the focus shifted to the effects absenteeism had on children. A lot of answers were thrown in by the participants, very interesting answers. However, with the help of the facilitator it was agreed to focus on the following:
1. Loss of concentration at school
2. Depression
3. Drug Abuse
4. Suicide
5. Victims of sexual abuse
6. Children growing too fast and assuming parental roles.
7. Low self- esteem.

Participants were also encouraged to look at possible solutions to the problems caused by absentee parents. Suggested solutions covered extended families, government structures and Non –Governmental Organizations' interventions strategies. After the workshop the students are back at their schools crafting the drama pieces for the competition. It is our hope that this year's edition will be as competitive and as interesting as the previous editions.

Source - sundaynews