I know that this post may just fan the flames just a little, but I like everyone else, I am entitled to my opinion, if nothing else. It mostly because I have been listening to very unsympathetic one sided opinion….so here is a view that I feel not many have considered.
There are two things that sparked this post, one was a conversation that I heard at work this morning where the following words were uttered “who do they expect to pay for their education”. I was less than impressed. And the second was the opinion that I read on a news site.
Unlike many people here, I grew up in apartheid South Africa, on the wrong side of the so called white picket fence. I often hear “working class” whites say that they went to government schools, ….and I fully appreciate that life was not as comfortable for you as for your peers….but have you ever stopped and asked yourself was life better than it was for non-white South Africans. It is an absolute travesty that public schools now have forty children in a class, guess what, Indian schools back in the day had a very similar number. How many people were in your white public schools? One play field, poor sanitation facilities, broken furniture, worn text books, that was EVERY Indian school….but you know what, it was still better than our black South Africans had…NO classrooms, NO books, NO toilets. Adds a little perspective doesn’t it?
Ever asked yourself what “working class” meant for whites? A supervisor, a secretary, receptionist? Those were all jobs reserved for whites back in the day. Granted, it meant that your life was not luxurious, but it was a job that gave you the means to better yourself. How many white domestic workers or miners do we have on this platform? How many of your parents were gardeners? Any takers? No? Sure? That was working class for black South Africans. There was a meagre wage that barely covered food and transport let alone clothes. Clothes were a luxury reserved for when Holiday and leave pay was paid. Where did they find the money to provide an education? As you may or may not be aware, funding for education back in the day came at a much higher interest rate for non whites than for white South Africans, which made it nearly impossible to afford even if people wanted to.This month before you give your domestic worker her wages, have a look at the money you are handing her, and ask if you could support a family and pay for an education given the same?
I know, full well the absolute desperation for an education, it was the only escape from a cycle, and these youngsters are looking for the same. I don’t agree with the burning and the trashing and the disrespect for other people and their property but I have empathy for their plight. 6% may not seem like a lot for those with even middle class jobs, but for the genuine working class of this country, it is the difference between a better life or remaining in this cycle for another generation. 6% is the difference between a student loan and no funding. 6% is the difference between a promise of a better future or scratching out a meagre existence. The vast majority of all students have to pay through loans for their own fees….let’s bear that in mind.
Until you have walked in those shoes, or faced those challenges, don’t judge. As a white person in South Africa, you think that you understand discrimination, but you will probably never understand the evil of apartheid unless you have lived through it. It was a system that was designed to cripple an entire race of people, not just for a generation but for all those that followed. And whilst I agree, that the corruption in the present administration has not helped the plight of the students, they are not to blame for the situation that they find themselves in….listen to the message not necessarily the manner in which it is coming across. To deny an education, is to deny the betterment of not only that person, but every generation that they will be empowered to help. Ponder that for just moment, before you back to berating people for wanting a better life than the one they find themselves in….one you could not possibly imagine.