The Pursuit for A Dialogue Amongst Equals

Our President let it slip last week, in his State of the Nation  address,  that the Minister of Education will introduce the beginning of a national dialogue on the development of “an oath that will be recited by learners in their morning school assemblies.”

The oath together with a proposed “Youth Pledge” will give opportunity to pay homage to “the virtues of humane conduct and human solidarity”.

I suppose that all the key role players in Education will be engaged in a national dialogue on various parts of the need to talk about “issues that define us as a nation”. The dialogue will result in the realization of the pledge.

As a nation, South Africa is  a rainbow of diversity – a diversity which will impact on how we will dialogue on that which our President refers to as  “issues that define us as a nation”.

Some are rich, others are poor; some are patriots,  others find the whole idea disgusting; some are tired of talking, others can’t stop talking. Some are opinionated, others go with with the flow. Some are positive, others are negative, some are conservative and others liberal, some are absolute in their attitude towards truth, for others … anything goes. Some can read, others cannot. Some sees relevance, others don’t see the point; some never say anything, others talk too much; some can make themselves clear, others are misunderstood.

In short … some will be more equipped and have a readiness to engage in a dialogue of this nature. They will have an edge. And we all know that those with this kind of edge always have the last say.

That is the evidence of inequality in education!

It is an inequality that can be rectified with a renewed commitment to revise the structure of early childhood education. In 30 years from now, we’d like the dialogue to be amongst equals.

In the meantime,  while we await the word from our Minister of Education, we can only hope that enough resources will be given to the one who will need to moderate the dialogue – it will be a tough assignment.

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