why are parents not on strike?
The apartheid government denied black children the right to education as a way of denying their humanity and stunting their growth as a people and as individuals. The constitution guarantees children with the right to education; this is paramount in developing them as individuals but also key in addressing the poverty and the legacy of apartheid. 34 years after June 16 tragedy with a full furnished democracy I cant help wander why the children of South Africa are being denied their right to education.
In July we defended our fight to party and shut down school for a six week long school holiday because we had a serious case of soccer fever. In August the right to strike was defended as civil servants took to the streets bargaining for their wages. During the workers strike again class rooms where closed and anyone who dared to teach was threatened and force to join the strike. I fully support people’s rights to party and strike. The police dealt with the strikers in a peaceful manner and acted in protection of workers rights; even when they used violence and threat against other workers.
South African children are however the least protected members of our free society. When children try to defend their right to education and learning get were shot at by police. The country seems ready to get back to business as usual and its exam time. the children of South Africa have not had regular school since June and are far form completing their school programme so how is it that we expect them to be ready. When they complained the government response was to tell them to tech themselves. No parent has joined the children who are protesting an examination where there has been no teaching or learning. We have instead chosen to shoot at out children when they raise their voices asking us to defend their rights. No parent has taken the unions or the teachers to the constitutional court for denying children one of our most fundamental rights; no one is speaking up for our children and youth. No one ever says that leaving children unattended for months to watch soccer or go on strike should constitute an act of child abuse and neglect; children in the new South Africa are on their own. Neither state nor parents are enraged when children are shot at for wanting a better education as if we are in 1976 again. We have police shooting children because children come at them with stones! This is a sad repetition of the past and no one feels they should stand and speak up to protect our young.
The solution is not to keep children in school till seven in the evening. We expect out young to go home in the dark, to have an eleven hour day; something no workers’s union would ever go for, and we expect those poor children who need the extra class room time to have enough lunch packed that they will be able to handle such a long day. By the first week of December schools will be closed and teachers on leave. Can South Africa not miss one of our precious holidays and have exams later in the year and give more time to learning? The solution is not clear but South Africa decided to take a break in June and do business unusual, we need to have the same approach to school and find unusual solutions to the problem we have created. If this problem is not resolved this year; it will haunt us next year as new grade r learners come into the system and matrics who are not ready to get out. Class rooms will explode and the level of education strained for yet another generation. However parents sit back silent while children are denied a fundamental right.