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Watch: St John’s College teachers and learners head to the polls

St John's College mock voting aims to create active citizenry and dismantle apathetic voter behaviour.

In light of the elections, St John’s College held numerous voter awareness activities with mock voting being the latest on May 15.

Executive headmaster of St John’s College Stuart West said mock voting is part of the school’s tradition and was a way to encourage learners to be active citizens in a democracy.

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“The school has always attempted in an election year to not only bring in political parties but also to create awareness around the rights of democracy and the need for learners to be aware of the issues. To also be aware that their civic engagement is critical to the country’s future and that we cannot have an apathetic approach to the elections and the issues our nation faces.”

Tristan Rhodes casts his vote. Photo: Asanda Matlhare

Senior learner, Milla Maud said she thought more schools should have election-based activities.

She added that the activities made the experience real for everyone, even the people who are not old enough to vote because they acquired an understanding and preparation until they were eligible.

Teacher Nkato Mkhabele casts his vote. Photo: Asanda Matlhare

English head of department teacher Fiona Kampann explained that the mock voting idea began in 1999 by women who taught in the English department and has been part of the school’s tradition since.

Milla Maud casts her vote. Photo: Asanda Matlhare

Kampann added that mock voting took effect at the school from South Africa’s second national elections.

“The teacher thought it would be important for learners to get an idea of what it is to be a responsible voter and what the voting process entailed. We have changed the mock voting process slightly this year: political party representatives came in at break and learners who were interested in listening to them but for the first time this year, we had an election jamboree which was made up of eight political parties and the entire school was involved and engaged.”

Executive headmaster of St John’s College Stuart West casts his vote. Photo: Asanda Matlhare

She added that seeing what the learners voted for would be interesting and what they voted based on.

English teacher Raymond Barrow noted that the school wanted to encourage and create critical thinkers in a democracy and create learners who can exercise their vote with some level of thought and it was important to instal that as early as possible.

Unathi Ngwenya casts her vote. Photo: Asanda Matlhare

Senior learner Unathi Ngwenya highlighted that the entire experience mimicked and created excitement around the voting season which was pleasant to see and commendable that the school encouraged learners to be active citizens in society.

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