by Annemarie Paulin-Campbell

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Great leaders, including Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama, believe strongly in the power of education as a tool for positive change both for individuals and for society. As a law graduate Mandela continued studying while imprisoned on Robben Island and also encouraged others he encountered to prioritise education. Recently we have seen the destruction of more than twenty schools in protests in Vuwani where learning has come to a standstill. The political issues at play there are complex, but it is the children who will bear the devastating consequences of the deliberate burning of their schools and the impact on their education.

Recently the auditorium at University of Johannesburg was burnt down and there was damage to some buildings at Fort Hare ahead of the centenary celebrations at the University. One of the most outspoken advocates of education in South Africa, Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor at University of the Free State has recently resigned to take up a position in the United States. His consistent calls to address the crisis in education in creative ways have sadly largely gone unheeded. We have such a huge backlog in terms of providing opportunities for education. We simply cannot afford to go backwards by destroying what facilities exist.

Other more constructive processes for resolving grievances must be found.

Gracious God,
Help us to find creative solutions to the tensions which exist;
To protect the resources we have, and to work to expand those resources and access to them.
May those of us privileged to have received good education
Seek creative ways to share that gift with others.