No fancy dresses‚ expensive suits or luxury cars‚ just their ordinary school uniform. That is how pupils of Iketsetseng Secondary School in Sasolburg in the Free State attended their matric dance at the weekend.
Speaking to TimesLIVE on Wednesday‚ principal Eric Sedi said he came up with the idea of having a “uniform matric dance” because he was tired of seeing the majority of his pupils not attending the function‚ due to a lack of funds to meet the expectations of fancy dresses and luxury cars.
“We noted with dismay that in many cases when we are holding the matric dance‚ only half or a quarter of the pupils attended. Others would come to see their peers arrive in flashy cars‚” said Sedi.
“My heart would be broken to see this because those from indigent families could not take part. I felt so bad about it‚” he said.
Sedi said he could see the stress that the matric dance posed on the pupils who could not afford it‚ saying it made it difficult for them to even focus on exams … I wanted to return it to the old days‚ my days‚ when we had farewells‚ not dances. So I proposed it to the matric committee and the staff and we came up with ‘Project Inclusivity.'”
“I had to go to the learners to try and convince them‚” he said.
Seventy percent of the pupils immediately bought into the idea‚ while the rest still needed some convincing.
“We showed them the positive about it because they could use that money to apply for tertiary (studies). Come January‚ the person who was wearing fancy clothes wouldn’t have money to apply for tertiary despite their good marks and will be in the township‚” Sedi said.
The parents of the pupils needed the least convincing. Sedi said they simply embraced the idea when it was pitched at the beginning of the year.
Despite doing things slightly differently‚ Sedi said he did not want to take away the spirit of the occasion so they pulled out all the stops to organise a glamorous event.
“We talked to a catering company and they hired a place and decorated it. The learners thought that they will be going to an ordinary hall but they got there and found it was a ‘wow’ thing. It was a huge surprise for them and they were all excited‚” he said.
The pupils were ferried to the venue in minibus taxis organised by the school. They were allowed to bend the school rules just a bit. The girls were allowed to wear heels‚ as well as have their make-up‚ hair and nails done for the event.
All except three of the school’s 238 pupils attended the dance. Those who did not come had valid reasons‚ from being ill to attending family events.
Pictures of the matric dance have done the rounds on social media. Sedi said they had mostly received compliments. He hopes other schools will join the trend.