Water rates and the school fees issue as a human rights matter

Please select a featured image for your post

The Bill of Rights component of our Constitutions provides, unequivocally, for Education and Water, among other rights, as Fundamental or Human Rights issues. Sadly, some authorities in our societies, particularly local schools and municipalities, do not treat them as such.
Despite the fact that the government has passed legislation that outlaws the chasing away from classes of pupils who have not honored their duty to pay school fees, it remains common practice for most schools to chase the innocent pupils who are in arrears.
Though this writer does not support the non-payment of school fees, he opines that the above practice is immoral and unconstitutional since, other than expulsion, there is a wide range of less devastating ways of addressing the problem.
The chasing of pupils has a lot of socio-psychological effect
First, the above practice tends to ‘punish’ the child as if she were the one in charge of raising the money to pay the fees. Yes, during the Old Testament times the sins of the parents were visited unto the children, unto the fourth generation (Exodus 20:4-5), but this approach no longer has a place in this modern era. The child is also a victim and suffers at both ends.
If a child has been sent home ,for nonpayment of fees        ,  and in full view of the other pupils ,for that matter , that tends to lower both his sense of dignity(sense of self) and reputation(one’s estimation in the eyes of others).
As such, the child is likely to become withdrawn, even if the fees are eventually paid, and this will have adverse implications on the child‘s educational progress. In extreme cases, the child may lose interest in school or even run away there-from.
It is not uncommon that this poor child gets shunned by the other pupils who come from better financial backgrounds. This also leads to loss of study mates and a sense of belonging as well.
And if the fees are eventually paid would the school deduct the value of the days of forced absence from lessons and the attendant injured feelings and give back to the child?
There are lots of avenues which are open to aggrieved schools regarding the non-payment of fees.
The payment of fees in kind e.g. maize and household utensils
Take legal recourse against defaulting parents
Arrange for parents or concerned children to work at school during holidays
Our school heads must not lose sight of the fact that the issue of the cash crisis is not a product of either parents or the child‘s making but it is a national disaster. This means a great measure of lenience is needed on the part of the school.
Let it be known to everyone that education is a Human Rights issue and such Rights are inalienable and God-given in all cultures.
In a related development, Local Councils are disconnecting water facilities from house owners who have defaulted in the payment of rates. The council, in most cases, does not even have the courtesy to alert poor stakeholders about the impending tragedy to befall them. Worse still, even if affected people are available, the Council personnel would not even have the decency to excuse themselves but simply get into the premises and vandalize the portion where the meter is attached to, before taking away the device(meter).
And a reconnection ‘penalty’ fee must be paid, if the meter is to be returned. This writer does not understand the logic of that arrangement since non-payment of the rates was, in the first place, due to financial problems, yet it attracts an additional fee\payment.
It needs not be over-emphasized that water is a human rights issue and must be treated as such.
And if, suppose, the damaged wall is to be repaired or rectified who would pay the bill?
Such exercises always target the poor: The rich, who have bigger debts, are phone-called and warned to put their house in order so that they are not caught off guard, unaware and with the proverbial pants slightly below their knees. After all, the well –to –do have enclosures surrounding their place of residence and even vicious hounds to scare –away ‘these intruders’.
Strangely, but not surprisingly to us, most of the time water facilities in the High Density suburbs won’t be functional. But still charging!
To add insult to injury, all other council operations against the so-called illegal business operations are directed against the poor, upcoming business persons.
But members of the Council must have a modicum of conscience to appreciate the impact of the unfriendly economic times currently besetting the country. These technocrats and politicians, alike, must be lectured on Human Rights Issues as a part of their orientation before commencing work.
In conclusion, all laws, practices, policies, rules and regulations must take due regard the sanctity of and respect human rights issues.