Hunt for high school students launched after tearing their uniforms to shreds

A school principal in Bubanza province decided that 10 students who just graduated won’t be awarded with diplomas. He accuses them of having torn apart their uniforms and behaved badly at the end of the state exam. The decision has sparked a lot of reactions.

Students tore apart their uniforms at the end of the state examination

An audio has been circulating on social media. The principal of EPM High School cites the names of students he accuses of displaying a behavior far from being exemplary.

They stripped off and insulted the master of studies. “It’s a complete lack of good manners,” says the principal. He adds that a meeting was held and sanctions were imposed: no diplomas will be given to the 10 students from the Maintenance section who broke the school rules. “They will repeat the year.” He assures that a note justifying the decision will be sent to the minister.

Boomerang effect

The decision has provoked an uproar from students. This principal is not the only one to consider sanctions. Fear haunts recent graduates. They fear the measures that would be disproportionate to the error which was made. The police would be looking for “troublemakers.”

“I do not think there was a fault. We finished our studies successfully and sat for the state exam. Why should someone be forced to repeat a year when in fact they have succeeded?” says a student who freshly graduated from a high school in Bujumbura. He fears that many principals will take such measures he refers to as excessive zeal.

B., a student from a public school in Bujumbura, says to be afraid. She and her classmates went to the beach to celebrate the end of high school. She is worried that pictures taken were published “Our outfit was not indecent. We tore our uniforms to show our joy at the end of the studies which were very difficult. Now that those pictures are circulating on social media, I fear that mine will also be shared. ”

The Friday explosion

On Friday, August 9th, after four days of doing exams giving access to the tertiary education, students met to celebrate the end of high school. It was on Friday, a day starting the weekend, especially in Bujumbura. Evening events are organized here and there. Students took the opportunity to tear apart their uniforms using scissors. It’s a kind of “ritual” since the past few years to celebrate the end of high school. But this time, it is widespread on social media and arouses strong reactions.


The Ministry of Education: “The Education Ministry in collaboration with the morality police has started investigations.”

Tharcisse Niyongabo, Inspector general of basic education, considers premature the sanctions taken by the school principals.
He says it is still very early to take action against these students. Mr Niyongabo indicates that the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the morality police has initiated investigations to find out any student who has been involved in the “deterioration of moral standards” by tearing their uniforms. At the end of the investigation, he promises sanctions in accordance with the law. Principals must wait for the ministry’s decision before taking any action on the basis of school rules.


National Association of students’ parents: “This happens when one is young.”

Edouard Ndikumasabo, president of this association deplores the behavior displayed by some students. He says, however, that this case must be put in a framework of festivities organized by students outside the school. “They have at least waited for the end of the studies and the state exam. For that, they can benefit from our clemency as parents, teachers and educators” . This parent calls for tolerance towards these adolescent students who sometimes display inappropriate behaviors. “Although it is a behavior to be discouraged, it does not prevent that it happens when one is young.”



COSSESSONA, a teachers’ union coalition: “An undesirable behavior”

For Emmanuel Mashandari, the vice president of the coalition of Conapes, Synatef, Steb-Sleb-Sipesbu and Synapep, all teachers’ unions, this is an unusual behavior that presages the questioning of good habits that have always characterized the education system in Burundi. “It is unfortunate that there is a generation of post-basic school students that publicly tear to shreds their uniforms instead of thinking about their future.”
The coalition calls for the respect for school materials, uniformity, thinking about the living conditions of some households and developing the values of good relations. “School officials must refer to the law and school regulations before taking sanctions,” he adds.




“Punishing those students should not be the first priority”

Jean Bosco Ndayishimiye: “The behavior of these students is delinquency, pure and simple.”

For Jean Bosco Ndayishimiye, a psychosociologist, these students showed joy and sudden but exaggerated emotions. However, he says that their behavior can affect future generations. “Of course, they have the right to express their feelings, but they did it in a bad way, contrary to the Burundian values and customs.”

This psychosociologist also speaks of an act of adolescence linked to delinquency. He believes that the emotions of these students should not go as far as “undressing in public, perhaps on the road. “It’s delinquency, pure and simple,” he says. According to him, this behavior may be normal for these students, but it is abnormal for the society.

As for the repression, Jean Bosco Ndayishimiye wondered about the punishment to be reserved for adolescents who acted only by emotions “certainly exaggerated “, but outside the school.
For him, the school regulations must be clear on the facts that take place outside the school to punish these students. Otherwise, he explains, the law can intervene in matters of delinquency. “But repression always conditions a complaint. And the one who is wronged must demonstrate how and why this behavior of the students is detrimental to them. ”

Mr. Ndayishimiye finds it unjust to deprive them of diplomas because they have succeeded in class. “They absolutely deserve their diplomas.”

Instead of rushing to punish them, he believes that the state should rather set up re-education system for students to avoid recidivism for future classes.

Analysis by Guibert Mbonimpa

“Remember that your son is not your son, but the son of his time”

“This is madness! »; “It’s appalling! »; “What a youth!” These are the judgments of some adult people after they saw how the students tore apart their uniforms after finishing the state examination for the 2018-2019 school year.
This social phenomenon was widely spread on WhatsApp.

The 2017-2018 school year was marked by an order prohibiting them from having long hair and nail polish as well as wearing mini-skirts, make-up and earrings. All this happened after a “society moralization” campaign launched by President Pierre Nkurunziza.

“We are free at last!” seem to say young graduates. Such an expression seems to show that they were sick and tired of school life. This” moralization of society” that affects the school seems to go wrong with young people of Z generation (born between 1998 and 2016) who follow the latest fashion trends with a non-conformism spirit.

It is the category of the population most receptive to what Nietzsche refers to as the Place, Moment and Fashion.
To better understand this phenomenon, we should follow this advice by Confucius: “Remember that your son is not your son, but the son of his time.”

Story written by Agnès Ndirubusa and Clarisse Shaka.
Translated into English by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana