From the Principal’s Desk – 15 June, 2017
June 16 is celebrated nationwide as Youth Day. On this day South Africa commemorates a youth protest that resulted in a wave of protests across the country otherwise known as the Soweto Uprising of 1976.
I am conscious that many students and possibly some adults are not aware of the significance of this day and see it as yet another public Holiday to enjoy being off from work and or school, but sometimes one needs to stop and acknowledge the events in history that have shaped the nation that we are today. It was in 1976 that the students of this country stood up against the appalling Bantu education system – a legacy of the Apartheid era aimed at keeping certain population groups of our country from accessing quality education. Sadly some 40 years later we are still feeling the consequences of this decision in our country today.
It is not the events or effects of what happened on June 16 that I want to focus on today but rather on the resultant efforts that manifested when a group of students got together to fight and stand up for something that they believe in. I have always maintained that one must never ever underestimate a child/student – they have the ability to see through the nonsense and often have the simple answers to some of our very complex problems. And yet it is a very fine line between standing up for a just cause and just being plain difficult, stubborn and an entitled young adult who argues for the sake of arguing.
As educators and parents it is up to us to have the wisdom to discern the difference and know when to guide, encourage or rein in a child/student’s particular “fall on the sword issue”. Despite this difference in the reasoning behind why someone does what they do, we must never stop encouraging our children to take a position and have a belief in something. It is this “journey of self” that ultimately helps define who we are and what we stand for as a human being. Our school vision statement “encourages individuals to reach their unique potential and equip them for an ever changing world”. We cannot do this without exposing our children to the world around them. We need to be talking about the daily events in our school, our community, our country and our world, we need to be conscious of the major events around us whether they are political, economical or social – in doing so we will hopefully inspire our children to find their passion and find out what they are willing to fight for – whether it be human rights, animal rights, becoming community activists or taking a stand against corruption and/or unethical leadership.
The ability to stand up for something is not restricted to those of us that are regarded as “adults” – the activist within each of us can be awakened at any time. And just like the students of 1976 – we all have the ability to make our country and world a better place if, and only if, we are willing to stand up and be counted!
Here’s to the youth of the past and present who have and will continue to make a significant difference in our ever changing world!