Tomorrow I’ll be off from school due to the current public servants’ strike going on across South Africa. Whilst my school isn’t affected by the strike, security has been threatened by the enraged strikers who could, at any time, picket outside our gates. Not the best image to project to the city of a prominent school in the province, having those pesky strikers toi-toying outside.
But what has really struck me with this recent strike (because, you see, South Africa is vunerable to strikes, and even has a so-called “strike season”), is the manner in which union members are protesting.
Now whilst the act of striking is condoned in our Constitution, it is only accepted as a peaceful manner of protest. Not the brutal, uncivilised way in which citizens of this nation are acting because our government can’t come to a simple conclusion.
You see, these people who are protesting in a way so embarrassing it makes me wonder what the world must be thinking of us mere months after the World Cup, are the very same people who, during the rest of the year, are meant to educate the future of this country – teach them how to improve the nation and step forward as a united people. Yet here they are, running into schools, vandalising and threatening non-striking teachers and students with violent acts if they don’t follow in their lead and down tools.
And I ask you, is this democratic in any way?
It’s barbaric. Simply put: Disgraceful.
South Africa already has an education system that has let-down a large portion of the population. And now a strike that hits like a knife into the very sector aimed at moving us forward is crippling the entire nation. Without proper education, a nation is nothing. And yet, every year, there has to be a situation with this particular sector and the government. Can’t the guys who we supposedly voted into power realise that, instead of spending exorbitantly at hotels in Cape Town for unreasonably long stays, channel that portion of tax payer’s money into actually doing what it’s meant to do: fund public services like education and health care?
By striking so frequently, and whenever there is a minor dispute, we are showing the next generation of South Africans that yes, whenever you can’t settle an agreement with your boss, just down tools and start picketing – and oh yes, don’t forget to resort to threats, no matter how violent they may be, to get everyone involved in your cause, even if they aren’t interested in joining you.
Is this the way to educate a nation?
Whatever happened to civil, professional debate between the concerned parties, and civil, professional agreements that honour the needs of both sides being reached? The first step to educating a nation is to set the example for those who will be next in line to follow. And unfortunately, at this rate, we’re far-off from doing so.