From the editor

| September 21, 2010

Like many journalists, I balk at the general idea of censorship. In 1994, addressing the International Press Institute Congress, Nelson Mandela took a similar view: “A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favour.”

These words have been recalled by several people in response to the current proposed Protection of Information Bill and Media Tribunal. The latest group to voice their view was a group of concerned academics, who wrote in the Sunday Independent newspaper (29/08/2010) that “the current media regulatory environment and the legal architecture prescribed by the Constitution are sufficient to provide remedy to South Africans who need it…we do not agree with the ANC’s proposal to introduce more stringent measures to restrict media freedom.”

This was one of the more measured responses to the issues at hand. Because the debate deals with the emotional issues of human rights and freedom of expression, there has been ongoing panic and mud-slinging in the media. To my mind, one of the most rational voices to weigh on this current important issue belongs to Professor Sipho Seepe. Writing in the same newspaper, he observed that “what should have been an enriching debate has been reduced to competing on the size of the mob each side can display…the resolutions of these issues and concerns demand critical engagement. They will not be resolved by resorting to intimidating tactics on both sides.”

Rational debate and critical engagement – as well as independent thought and quality – are foundational principles of our magazine, giving rise in this issue to a symphony of voices and an abundance of fascinating debates. They confirm that ISASA’s strength lies in the rich diversity of its constituent schools and affiliated networks, and the passion and commitment of those who teach and learn therein.

This does not mean, however that we are unaware of other debates in the wider education sphere. Who can ignore for example, the powerful sound of voices united in protest, as the current public service strike threatens to grow ever wider? In our efforts to provide comment from well-respected quarters on such serious and urgent issues we may have had to put on hold one or two promised instalments. In short, our ‘choir’ is, as you will see, bursting at the seams. Surveying our colourful pages, a member of the team called to mind a delightful Sepedi saying: “One bracelet alone does not make a sound.”

More than one contributor to this issue admitted to being inspired by the voices of authors who penned pieces for our winter magazine. We hope this is a growing trend. Whether, though, you find that the voices in our spring issue serenade you with sweet harmony, or unsettle you with discordant ditties, feel free to send your views directly to the editor at fiona1@acenet.co.za (an incorrect address was unfortunately supplied in a previous issue.)

I would be remiss if I did not pay homage to another group of voices – the women who marched on Parliament in 1956, crying “Wathint’ abafazi! Wathint’ imbogodo!” To mark Women’s Month, Ms Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education and President of the ANC Women’s League delivered a moving address to students and faculty members at Walter Sisulu University.

The Minister drew particular attention to the life and times of Florence Matomela, “a child of the Eastern Cape. She was a teacher, a loving mother, an ANC Veteran, an anti-pass activist, a civil rights campaigner, a champion of oppressed women, a communist, a revolutionary and working-class leader who gave her life to the noble fight for freedom.”

Calling to mind also the students of 1976, Minister Motshekga spoke directly from the heart to the students in her audience: “Nobody can change your life for you. Thus we have said, free your mind through the most potent weapon of them all – education. Florence Matomela was a dedicated teacher and therefore made a difference in the lives of many. She participated in many progressive
structures only to ensure a better life for all. You can do the same.”

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Category: Spring 2010 Edition

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