loyalty pledge unveiled

Sapa and Sowetan Reporter

Sapa and Sowetan Reporter

A pledge the government intends all school children to recite during morning assembly was unveiled by Education Minister Naledi Pandor yesterday.

The pledge says:

"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."

Pandor said the pledge was intended to inculcate "the values we as South Africans have thought to be important".

She said the pledge would be open for public comment "to see if we can live with it" and children could be heard reciting it by the middle of next month.

Asked if she envisaged objections by parents, she said she hadn't heard of a single South African who had wanted to "opt out" of the Constitution.

"I would be really surprised if people don't want to [recite it]. It speaks to the values we want to have our young people take up." She said it would be recited at assemblies "and even in class" and children should be encouraged to recite and memorise it.

The matter was first raised by President Thabo Mbeki in his state-of-the-nation address last Friday.

The DA has come out in support of the pledge.

"A pledge of allegiance could be a valuable way of making South African children feel that they are part of a larger national identity," DA MP Desiree van der Walt said yesterday.

The National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa has also welcomed the initiative.

Sadtu said it still wanted to look at the essence of the pledge and would announce its position thereafter.