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PARENTS are considering whether to send their children to boarding school or not as registrations open for 2010.
Boarding schools have been part of the South African landscape since the missionaries arrived with the Book in our country. There are many tales about the horrors of boarding schools, which discourage modern parents from sending their children away from home.
A mother who refused to be named said these schools were breeding grounds for homosexuals. She said she had heard from people who grew up there that children acquired many bad habits as inmates of these schools.
Nomvula Khalo, a member of Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane's think tank, is sending her son, Mpumi, to boarding school because that is what he has been begging for for years.
"I have found a school here in Johannesburg for him. He has been going on and on about going away for years."
Boarding school can be a great place to meet people and can be fun. Pupils get really close to each other.
Some of the benefits of going to these schools include lasting friendships with other pupils and with teachers. Smaller class ratios mean pupils enjoy more interaction with teachers. Their work is closely monitored and the teacher can intervene quickly if there are educational problems.
It is an ideal system for parents who have hectic work or travel schedules to send their children to a secure and safe institution.
Children learn earlier to behave, become independent and be responsible.
Vusi Thwala of Johannesburg has two children at boarding school. One is in the final year and the younger one still has a year to go.
"When a parent has a high pressure job and only gets home after 6pm or 7pm, it is better if the children attend boarding school," Thwala say.
"At home they spend a lot of time watching TV and listening to music. There is no one to properly supervise homework and study time.
"Children need a routine, a system of study and reading. Boarding school has study periods after lunch and an evening reading period. Besides, they do not spend time travelling back and forth."
The Thwala teens, who come home at weekends, say boarding school weaned them from soapies. They do not watch Generations or Scandal anymore because they have better things to do.
At day school pupils stay home with their parents and go to school by day.
They stay within the nurturing family unit and have support from their parents.
They learn to be street smart. Glenda Mogoera of Mamelodi does not believe that a school or teachers can do a better job than parents.
"I asked my youngest if she wanted to do matric at boarding school and she refused. She said she and her friends were competing to see who would come out at the top," Mogoera says.
"They did well in the finals because of this spirit. My daughter might not have found a group like that at boarding school." .