The Right to know your Rights

3:13 PM / Posted by Daniel C /

March 21 (Yes, I do realise this is a little late) sees the annual celebration of Human Rights in South Africa, rights being an integral part of our constitution. The day serves as a reminder of the atrocities that occurred in Sharpeville only five decades prior, and highlights the importance and urgency of honouring these rights.

Human rights are most commonly regarded as the right to life, equality and exemption from discrimination, but I think the most important right of all is too often overlooked – the right to education.

Education is arguably the biggest problem in a country with problems coming out of every nook and cranny. While we can all agree that crime is a paramount issue and needs to be dealt with accordingly, and while the spread of HIV and AIDS is quoted by Nelson Mandela as " longer just a disease, it is a human rights issue", I would like to argue that neglect for education is the primary reason for almost every other problem that we, as South Africans, are faced with. It is a fact that crime rates drop with a rise in education and literacy, which is only obvious since it allows individuals to conceptualise a better life for themselves, a life with plausible opportunities and goals. HIV and AIDS cannot be beaten with education alone, but 98% of the job will be done if people have the right attitude towards the problem. Education is the only way to bring about such an attitude.

We are sitting in a divided country. South Africa houses some of the best universities in the continent, while schools in rural areas produce children who can barely write, never mind attend an institution for tertiary education. Section 29 of the Bill of Rights states that everyone has the right to a basic education, including a basic adult education, it is a pity that it doesn’t state how good of an education though. If government wants to solve the persisting predicament they always find themselves in, they should stop avoiding a basic human right that has the potential to do this country a whole lot of good.

Just because half of parliament has not received an adequate education, does not mean they have the right to act ignorant enough to ensure the cycle continues.

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Comment by Gabz on April 21, 2010 at 3:29 PM

Education is no doubt (along with all the other human rights) a very important right. I firmly believe however that while education should be promoted, it should be done in a different way with more focus on sustainable lifestyles than on financial gain. By doing this, future generations will not only be educated about HIV/Aids and such, but will also be able to protect the very earth on which they rely in order to live.

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