We have a constitutional right to education!! 4

The ANC manifesto in 1994 was impressive with regards to learning…

…“Opening the Doors of Learning

An ANC government will make education a priority. The challenge is immense, but it will not require finding more money. We need to ensure that the R23-billion set aside is used for the benefit of all.

For too long, the NP government has denied too many people the right to education or the proper conditions for learning and teaching.

Emphasis will be placed on teacher training and upgrading and improving their conditions of service. Above all, we will encourage a culture of learning and teaching, and introduce a new curriculum which promotes both technical quality and humane ideals. .

An ANC government will:

•introduce one education system that provides ten years of free and compulsory education for all children;

•start utilising all existing school facilities;

•provide more classrooms and repair and modernise inadequate facilities;

•double the number of free text-books within one year;

•allow mother-tongue instruction and education in the language of choice;

•provide a national bursary and loan system;

•provide adult literacy programmes;

•assist youths who have not been able to complete their education;

•focus on ways of providing pre-school educare;

•give special assistance to women…”

In 2004 all that was mentioned on education was this!! Children in all parts of the country have access to better education with more than 95% enrolled in primary schools, with school feeding schemes in poor areas, financial assistance to those in need in universities and technikons, thousands of new classes built and new syllabus content introduced.

In 2009 it stated!! a constitution which guarantees human rights for all, the right to a minimum standard of life, including the right to access health, education, social security, food and water;

A closer look at our Bill of rights states that;

~ Education: You have the right to basic education, including adult basic education, in your own language (if this is possible).

~ Assembly, demonstration, picket and petition: You can hold a demonstration, picket and present a petition. But you must do this peacefully.

~ Freedom of association: You can associate with whomever you want to.

I am a strong believer that teachers need to be uplifted in our Society. They play a pivotal role in the education of our children and even although we say that children learn all their morals and values at home we all know from experience that it was teachers that hooked us onto something in life for life or just as easily killed that dream!

So the question is..should they be asking for more money?

Yes they should!!!

For me it is not in what they are asking for but the way they are asking for it. Our Bill of rights states that education is a right. Do teachers take an oath like a doctor or lawyer; maybe they should. Those children have a right to be in the classroom learning right now. When I was smsed to come fetch my son at 10h00 I was furious. No one has a right to intimidate the rest of us like that. Matrics have a right not to be threatened by this action when they are in their final moments before the big exams. Our Bill of rights also state that demonstrations and picketing must be done peacefully and that we have Freedom of association. Surely if I do not want to strike that is my choice!

I have also had the amazing experience of facilitating certain subject matter workshops and OBE workshops for teachers and am very often appalled by the fact that at starting time 08h30 for 09h00 we have 10 teachers of 60 sitting ready to start. The rest arrive periodically throughout the morning making sure they are there for lunch and they disappear just as fast afterwards. One bunch over a 5 day workshop were so excited to be in town they ‘casinoed’ and drank till all hours at their own admission and slept all day in the class. How do these people instil a love of education and learning when they themselves are lacking! What comes first..upliftment of the job and more pay or respect for the job and then you are rewarded for your dedication and passion.

I unfortunately do not have all the answers. I just know that constitutionally speaking what is happening today with the educator strikes is wrong. I also know that I would not want to send my child to a school where educators create havoc and trash things and then expect the kids in a few weeks time to sit quietly in the classroom and listen with respect. I know that when my son goes back to school he has every reason to respect his teachers but how many out there will not have that same opportunity!! I also know that that we need to keep better vigil of our education ministers and hold them accountable to how they award tenders and who they award them to. That would leave money to pay the hard working teachers whom we should be looking after… After all education is the single most important factor that gives true emancipation!!

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4 thoughts on “We have a constitutional right to education!!

  • Lisa Amanda Bradshaw Post author

    To Don and Moegsien
    I feel strongly that someone in all this should be held accountable. I have heard plenty other stories, myself included where children had to be fetched early yesterday. Many were taken to the work environement of parents and by lunchtime parents had to leave work and go home to look after these children. The strikes affect all other sectors. Surely sitting in the classrooms with those very same teachers but no work being done would be far more responsable. Our children would be at school where they should be. Us parents would still get the message that salaries should be higher and the kids would not get the ungly behaviour and disruptions!! Is there any recourses on labour unions with regards to all these other sectors being disrupted. Loss of work, emotional turmoil etc…

  • Don Leffler

    Hi Lisa
    I will be very surprised if any parent of a child at school will disagree with you. However, I am sure there will be some debate on your interpretation of the ANC Manifesto (1994) and the Bill of Rights. These source documents do substantiate your arguments. I personally believe that our system of negotiating salary increases is outdated. In a tough economy, our essential services should be encouraged to reason long term Wage Agreements based on individual performance and results. All employees, and specificallyTeachers and Public Service staff, need to be properly evaluated, appraised and rewarded according to their performance.
    Conduct and compliance with the Teachers Code of Conduct should influence merit-based salary increases. Disruption of these services should be prohibited and other fora should be introduced to resolve wage disputes in the public interest. Children should be protected from being exposed to disruption of learning and from damage to property or injury to persons. The right to strike must be balanced against the right to learn and to the right of freedom of association.

    Since the Teachers and their Unions lobby, strike and toi-toi for support, it is time that Learners and their parents also lobby for support and protection of their rights.!!!


  • Ian Webster

    Yes, Lisa, you are absolutely right.
    The teacher’s (and nurses, etc) have an clear right to strike. But this madness needs to be contained and that requires a strong political will we simply don’t have (not with the ruling party’s national conference coming up next month).
    I think one of the drivers here is that the strikers have decided they can’t afford another protracted strike. So, let’s up the ante and create even more havoc and mahem than last time (after all, it’s not us, really, it’s just thugs who wear our T-shirts). And if enough children are affected, and if enough people die in (and out of) hospitals, the rest of the country will force the government to pay up and end it.
    That is cynical terrorism of the worst sort.