Touria Prayag's Blog

Fight them or join them Par Touria Prayag 30 Mai 2013

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on September 15, 2013



The polemic surrounding the five-year-old girl who had initially been refused admission to Raoul Rivet School to be later admitted is sufficiently serious. It should not be overshadowed by the various topics elbowing for attention. Not least because the child’s admission was brandished by her mother as “ a triumph against elitism” and a struggle “ for justice” . Some well-meaning guy even called the little girl the Rosa Parks of modern times.


Here’ s the sequence of events with no comment: an innocent little girl pitches up at a school outside her catchment area. A Star school – as you must have guessed. When she was not allowed entry – as any rational person would expect – her father hotfooted his way to the headmaster’ s office and allegedly displayed acts of violence and insisted that his daughter be given a seat. I will spare you details of the child’s trauma and the drama surrounding the case between the angry father, the Child Development Unit offi cers and the school staff who were trying to do their job. An injunction was lodged in the supreme court. The parents lost and had to pay costs. The court ruling, however, specified that they could, if they so wished, “ apply to the minister of education for admission… under section 10 of the Education Regulations” . The parents, in their… ahem… “ fight against elitism” , made a request to the minister who, in his fight for votes, acquiesced and the girl – “ in a historic feat” , according to her mother – was admitted to the Star school. Clap, clap, clap!


This was followed by a public “ thank you” letter to the minister, in which a number of institutions were deplored for their inaction: the supreme court, the ombudsperson for children, the Equal Opportunities Commission and Minister Mireille Martin. Everyone was wrong. Except the parents that is. Clap, clap, clap!


Our sister publication – l’express Dimanche – who did not see anything heroic about traumatizing a fi ve-year-old girl to get her into an elite school she was not entitled to, was chastised by the mother for daring to mention that this sets a risky precedent and was accused of being a “ manipulative newspaper which diffuses lies” .


We are happy for the innocent little girl – if that is the be-all and end-all of education. But let’ s please keep our feet firmly on the ground. Rosa Parks fought for every black person to sit on the bus. The child’s parents fought for her to get a seat that was denied to other – perhaps more deserving – kids. So if there was a fi ght, it was a fight to take what belonged to others, first through defying the regulations in place and – when that and the supreme court action didn’ t work – through asking the minister for a seat.


As our sister publication highlighted, Vasant Bunwaree has set a risky precedent. And probably an illegal one at that. The minister can use his discretion only if “in that school, there exists a vacancy which cannot be filled by a child living in the catchment area” . In the court’s ruling, one can read: “There is evidence on record that there is no vacancy for any more pupils” . I would therefore like to invite the parents who live in the catchment area and whose children were not as lucky as this child – who doesn’t – to please approach the supreme court. That would be a fight for justice.


As for those who want to fight elitism, they should send their children to non-Star schools and prove to those who show theirs how to cheat and get undue advantages that the quality of education does not depend on the bench one sits on. It depends on the values the parents inculcate through their own behaviour.


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