Loans for Matric dances?
Parents complain that their Grade 12 kids have excessive Matric dance demands.
This article originally appeared in Ground Up, 13 November 2013

Parents every year complain about the demands grade 12 learners have for their end of the year matric dances.

“Some parents”, says social worker Nomxolisi Tastsi, “go to extremes and borrow money to afford the expenses.”

Amanda Majola is in grade 12 and attends a school in Gugulethu. She said the matric dance was the best day of her life. She was proud her preparations cost around R3,500. And still, she says, the money was not enough.

Her dress costs about R1,300 and her shoes R800. Then there was a hair makeover, which cost R600, and on top of this there were still accessories.
“It’s all about the glamour, the label clothes, and the car that takes you to the dance. And also one has to think about the after party. You need to have a different outfit because you have to dress to impress”, she says.

Majola stays in a RDP house with her mother and her younger brother. Her mother is a domestic worker earning between R3,500 and R4,500 a month.

“I am proud of her. She is in grade 12, and she is the only person in the family who went this far. Paying for her dance was a token of appreciation, even though I had to make a loan of R3,000 so that I could afford it,” said her mother.

Thando Mseki, also in grade 12, said that he had to threaten his parents by saying that if he didn’t go to the dance and didn’t get the label clothes he wanted, he was not going to write the exams. Thando sees the dance as a way to impress girls at his school and an opportunity to wear expensive clothes he couldn’t normally wear.

“My whole outfit for both the matric dance and the after party was close to R5,000. I am a skothane, so I need to set my mark. I don’t really care where my parents get the money, but I am going to pay it back by passing grade 12,” he says.

A teacher from Luhlaza High says that every year he gets shocked by how much learners spend, and yet during the year, they do not spend any money on educational activities such as outings. He said learners and parents always complain that they do not have money, but he does not understand where the money comes from for the dance.

Tastsi said last year, a learner wanted to commit suicide because his parents could not afford the Carvela boot he wanted which cost about R1,300. Instead, the parents wanted to buy him Lacoste shoes for R600.
“Parents should teach their children to save and take responsibility for their lifestyle by motivating them to get weekend jobs so that they can afford their dance at the end of the year. Teachers have a role to play too. At some schools they also put pressure on learners by making remarks about who is going to look beautiful at the dance,” said Tatsi.

This article first appeared in Ground Up and has been used with permission under a Creative Commons licence.

What do you think? Should parents go into debt to ensure their kids look their best at the Matric dance?

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