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To pledge or not to pledge

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To pledge or not to pledge

by Esther Lewis
19 Feb 2008
The Peoples Post
The Peoples Post

EMBRACE it, reject it; love it, or hate it; but the proposed school pledge of allegiance will probably become a reality.

The new school oath, to be recited by every learner at school by order of Naledi Pandor, Minister of Education, seems to be a hot topic and is being met with differing views from principals across the city.

Ulric Jacobs, principal of Windsor High School, feels the pledge is a good thing and can be used as a tool of unity. "It will definitely help in building pride. We need this in schools, because it will make youth aware there is more to life than their cellular phones. "His only concern is interpretation: "The younger learners may not understand the context," Jacobs says.

Rona September, principal of Portia Primary School shares that concern. "I want to know how they expect children in Grades 1 to 3 to understand the language."

She feels not only should the wording be put in layman's terms, but it should also be less focused on the past. "The wording must be positive. A pledge is something we are striving for now and in the future; it shouldn't be about the past."

She adds their learners recite their mission statement during assembly, so the idea would not be very new to them.

While the wording may have too much gravity for some, it could be meaningless - or even offensive - to others.

Riedwaan Dollie, Oaklands High School principal, wonders if it would cater for the needs of all learners. He explains his school has a mixed bag of learners, from very different backgrounds. Some of them, he says, may not subscribe to what is proposed for the oath.

"Children could say it every day, but for some, the words could be very meaningless."

He adds there are more pressing issues in need of the minister's attention than a pledge.

Either way, some are accepting the pledge whole-heartedly. Dino Abrahams, principal of Crystal High School, supports the proposal 100%. He says South Africans need to get to the point of pride where Americans are. "When they hear their national anthem, they immediately stand up, hand over heart. We don't really have that here," Abrahams says.

He believes introducing children to the oath would be a step in the right direction. The content especially impresses Abrahams, but he feels the children must be made to understand it fully. "Our challenge is to be consistent. It's one thing to say it, but we need to live by the principles every day."

Depending on public comment, the pledge could be on the lips of every learner as soon as the end of March.

The Proposed Pledge of Allegiance
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.

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika

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