PUPILS from var­i­ous schools gath­ered at Sas­tri Col­lege in Dur­ban on Fri­day to dis­cuss South Africa’s con­sti­tu­tion.

Ad­dress­ing is­sues of racial in­equal­ity, so­cial co­he­sion, women’s rights, free­dom of speech and the separation of pow­ers, pupils from Dur­ban High School, Zwelethu Sec­ondary School, South­lands High, Sas­tri Col­lege and New Haven High took the stage to dis­cuss pos­si­ble so­lu­tions to is­sues faced by the gov­ern­ment.

Grade 11 New Haven High School pupil Shivani Goven­der said it was an in­for­ma­tive ex­er­cise.

“I think it is great that we could par­tic­i­pate, ask our peers ques­tions and see the dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives of stu­dents with dif­fer­ing views,” she said.

Shivani and her group spoke about free­dom of speech.

“It is a very in­ter­est­ing topic. We re­searched a lot and found that there should be some lim­i­ta­tions on free­dom of ex­pres­sion. Look at the Penny Spar­row case. It would not have got­ten so out of hand had there been stricter laws ac­com­pa­ny­ing free­dom of ex­pres­sion,” she said. South­lands’ pupils told

POST later that if there were greater ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion, there would not be as much ha­tred in the coun­try as there is now.

“Ev­ery­thing ties in. If we had bet­ter meth­ods to cre­ate so­cial co­he­sion, ev­ery­one would live in har­mony,” said Owami Mh­longo.

Her fel­low pupil, Co­ral Pil­lay, who spoke about the di­vi­sions in so­ci­ety that are pre­vent­ing South Africa from be­com­ing a united, co­he­sive na­tion, told POST she be­lieved ed­u­ca­tion on so­cial co­he­sion should start at grass­roots level.

“Our teach­ers need to teach us not to dis­crim­i­nate and see oth­ers dif­fer­ently from the time we en­ter school, to avoid racial dis­putes. Our teach­ers should also ob­tain the skills needed on how to deal with this be­cause I am sure most of them don’t know how to han­dle it. But so­cial co­he­sion should also start in our com­mu­nity, not just in school,” she said.

Seluleko Sa­bela from Dur­ban High School dis­cussed racial in­equal­ity in schools.

“I have learnt that, be­cause of where they are and the funds they re­ceive, not all schools can pro­vide all the skills pupils need. There is in­equal­ity in ru­ral schools, com­pared to oth­ers, and we don’t al­ways get the same op­por­tu­ni­ties in terms of qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion,” he said. “I feel there is still a long way to go for this coun­try when it comes to ex­er­cis­ing our democracy, but one of my so­lu­tions would be to name and shame our prob­lems and find a so­lu­tion in­stead of only com­plain­ing about it.”

All the pupils who par­tic­i­pated in the colloquium told

POST their per­spec­tive of the coun­try had changed since tak­ing on the project.

“I have been in­spired by what I have been read­ing up on. It has even made me de­cide on a ca­reer change,” said Malusi Shandu, a Grade 10 pupil at Zwelethu Sec­ondary School.

“Ini­tially I wanted to join the navy, but since re­search­ing the separation of pow­ers and how it is di­vided into three, I told my par­ents I wanted to study law.”

Other schools also at­tended the colloquium to lend support and ob­serve the dis­cus­sion.

Montarena Sec­ondary School teacher VM Kis­ten told

POST although her del­e­ga­tion com­prised only spec­ta­tors, they would be look­ing to join the next one.

“I think this is great. We are watch­ing these stu­dents show their un­der­stand­ing of their rights in this coun­try and the con­sti­tu­tion. It is a great ex­pe­ri­ence and we will take what we learnt from to­day back to school and pre­pare to do some­thing like this as well,” she said.


South­lands High School pupils, from left, Co­ral Pil­lay, Owami Mh­longo and Cas­sidy Vartharag­ulu at­tended the dis­cus­sion on SA’s con­sti­tu­tion.

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