Angry? See a shrink, don’t burn books and ruin someone’s future

Ideas

Angry? See a shrink, don’t burn books and ruin someone’s future

Libraries are destroyed by those in poor communities who have lost their sense of the value of education

Columnist

In a poor, rural township about 66km west of Klerksdorp, with a sparse population, the government built a “state-of-the-art library” to the tune of R12m. The Letsopa Community Library was truly something special – it had a toy library section for small children and a library division for the blind. This rich educational resource had been serving the poorest of communities for the past five years. Then last week a group of locals got angry and burned the library down.

Think about it. We have white, privileged schools around SA with impressive facilities such as state-of-the-art computer labs and Astroturf surfaces for hockey existing a short drive from black schools where children drown in their own shit. Massive inequalities developed over more than a century. Then we start to rebuild, 25 years since the end of legal apartheid, and one of the things we do with taxpayers’ money is to build a modern, inclusive and accessible library in a dusty township so that our children can access knowledge and learn their way out of poverty. It will take a while but the foundations of a new school system are being laid for the poorest of the poor. In a flash of anger, the library is no more. The fancy white schools, however, go from strength to strength as the white (and minority black) elites continue to pour their private funds into more and more elaborate education infrastructures for those already privileged.

Of course this reckless behaviour by protesters near the railroad town of Ottosdal in North West is not the first or last time we burn down education facilities. In the same province, a school that was to serve as a voting station was set alight in Kraaipan, Mahikeng, earlier in 2019. In Limpopo, 22 schools were set alight during 2016 in a dispute over district boundaries...

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