Thursday, February 21, 2008

The new school pledge

Below is the proposed pledge that all South African school children will be saying at school each day in the not too distant future:

“We the youth of South Africa, recognising the injustices of our past, honour those who suffered and sacrificed for justice and freedom. We will respect and protect the dignity of each person, and stand up for justice. We sincerely declare that we shall uphold the rights and values of our Constitution and promise to act in accordance with the duties and responsibilities that flow from these rights.”

There is a lot of controversy about this pledge at the moment - it's the subject of many of the talk shows on our local radio stations and there has been a fair bit about it in the press too.

Shoot me down if you feel the need, but I must admit that I have mixed feelings about it. I don't have a problem with the second part, but I am not too keen on the first bit. In my opinion, part of the problem in this country is that we spend too much time dwelling on our sordid history and not enough time working together to grow this country to its full potential. We should be dealing with the pressing issues that we are confronting right now - crime, electricity shortages, spiralling inflation and the like, instead of continually dredging up the past.

No doubt about it, there were "injustices in our past", yes apartheid was totally unforgiveable; but apartheid ended 14 years ago - for goodness sake it's time to move on. How is that wound ever going to heal if we are always obsessively poking at it?

Not for one minute am I suggesting that apartheid should be forgotten - our children need to learn about it to ensure that nothing like that ever, ever happens again. But we should also remember that the children who are at school now never lived under apartheid, they never engineered it, they never voted for it, so why on earth should they carry the guilt of it around with them on a daily basis? Far better to let them all grow up without it's heavy shadow forever hanging over them!

Please spare a thought today for my sister-in-law and her family who discovered a short while ago that while they were at work/school their home had been broken into and literally "cleaned out", all their clothes, electrical appliances etc etc have been stolen.


Marsha said...

We certainly have our own issues here in the states that history calls us down on and we fight the same battle of moving forward instead of reliving our past. As a matter of fact, all of the problems you mention are the very ones we face here as well. I agree with you that we should learn from our past and move on armed with the understanding that we should never repeat our mistakes and to deal effectively with today's issues.

Prayers going out for your sister-in-law and her family. How terrible the loss and worst of all, learning to live with the feeling of being violated in the place where you ought to feel the safest... in your own home!

Simone said...

When I read your post I wondered where have I been living. I mean I a teacher in this country and I don;t know about this.
Then again I teach at a Christian private school and I just don't have time or the desire to watch the news. I do listen to radio and pick up a news paper now and again.

I don't have immediate strong response for or against the statement just a whole of questions and concerns.

Fee said...

Boy oh boy..... Gill I am so dissapointed in what is happening to our country. I've just had a little rant about it on my blog!

You are so right I would rather have us all looking forward and working together to create a safer country.

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