Screw the pledge February 13, 2008Posted by Andreas in activism, anarchism, Life, News, Parenting, Politics, rant, Society, South Africa.
South Africa’s Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, has just unveiled the pledge which “will be recited during assembly in all schools”. Here it is:
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.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica
Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it. Sure, and I’m all for people reciting it as often as they like – with the emphasis very much on the word “like”.
In my opinion, forcing kids to regurgitate this, or any other “pledge”, every morning, whether they want to or not, turns the idea of committing ones self to certain principles into a cheap and meaningless exercise in pop psychology at best. At worst, it’s an attempt at brainwashing.
The whole thing will probably be counterproductive – I know I would have absolutely hated having to recite any formulaic pledge every day. What about kids who refuse to say the pledge? Will they be forced to, will they be punished, or identified as unpatriotic traitors and publicly humiliated?
If the country’s constitution is the issue, then let kids engage with it properly. Let them dissect it and critique it and take from it what they like… make up their own minds and then defend it if they feel that way inclined.
Really meaningful commitment to any idea can only come from a genuine personal investment, never from mindless indoctrination. Let the kids think for themselves – they are well capable of being compassionate human beings without being force fed even the most well-meaning formulae.
Besides, does anyone else find it just a tat ironic for these sorts of decrees to come from politicians – frankly (and yes I am generalising here), a bunch of people up to their elbows in corruption, regularly outed as criminals, who have just gotten rid of one institution (the Scorpions) that kept on exposing their dirty laundry. As far as influencing a future generation goes, I think their actions will speak louder than the words of any pledge.