INFORMATIVE EXERCISE FOR PUPILS
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.