Pledge must be 'learning tool'

Sowetan Reporter

Sowetan Reporter

The proposed pledge for schools should include practical programmes if it is to be effective as a tool for nation building, the South Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said yesterday.

SAHRC head Jody Kollapen said the pledge would become meaningless if not accompanied by programmes in the classroom.

Kollapen said these should include lessons on religious diversity, xenophobia and cultural tolerance.

"The pledge is introduced at a time when we face a high incidence of violence, some of which seem to suggest they are racially based, and religious intolerance in schools."

He dismissed criticism about the pledge being racially biased by referring to the injustices of the past.

"The injustices do not necessarily refer to the apartheid era. The injustices could be referring to the women and children in the concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War," said Kollapen.

Last week's release of the draft pledge by Education Minister Naledi Pandor drew responses from South Africans from all walks of life.

Some white South Africans reacted saying: "I'm not going to allow my child to say this pledge while there are so many crooks in power" or "I am not going to pledge allegiance to corrupt politicians".

Former Cape Times editor and author, Ryland Fisher, said it was important to realise that the pledge "was not to politicians individually or collectively ".

The words about the injustices of the past "came from the Constitution". "So white South Africans who have a problem with the wording of the pledge have a problem with the Constitution."