Chil­dren should give peace a chance

CityPress - - Voices -

When we de­mand ser­vices for our com­mu­ni­ties, we burn the lit­tle we have – like li­braries, schools and po­lice sta­tions. When mu­nic­i­pal work­ers take to the streets to de­mand bet­ter wages and work­ing con­di­tions, they turn cities up­side down and lit­ter the very streets they are sup­posed to keep clean. Strik­ing truck driv­ers at­tack non-strik­ing driv­ers and stone other ve­hi­cles – just to get their point across.

While we adults con­duct our­selves in such an un­be­com­ing man­ner – de­mand­ing what we need – our chil­dren are watch­ing. And watch­ing they have been. The ac­tion of pupils when they marched to the of­fices of ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion in Pre­to­ria on Thurs­day is there­fore not un­ex­pected. While some of their de­mands were noble – healthy lunches, bet­ter scholar trans­port, and so on – their un­ruly be­hav­iour is a cause for con­cern.

The pupils, who trav­elled by train from Soweto, Tem­bisa and Mamelodi, van­dalised shops, robbed hawk­ers and pelted them with stones – and brought traf­fic to a stand­still.

Their ac­tions shine the spotlight on adult South Africans. What are we teach­ing our chil­dren? Are these the fu­ture lead­ers we want?

Would there have been prob­lems if they had marched – peace­fully – to the depart­ment’s of­fices, handed over their list of de­mands and re­turned home with­out caus­ing havoc?

Hawk­ers and busi­nesses that were van­dalised did not de­serve the wrath of these pupils. Such dis­or­derly ac­tion must not be tol­er­ated.

Pupils should be­have in a man­ner that will al­low them to look back with pride – able to say we fought for bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion with­out at­tack­ing peo­ple who had noth­ing to do with our predica­ment.

There is a les­son here for the coun­try: We can get what we need through ne­go­ti­a­tion. Our democ­racy is there for all to see.

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