Wednesday, August 22, 2007

'Stop having children if you can't pay PTA fees'

'Stop having children if you can't pay PTA fees'
By Editor
Wednesday August 22, 2007 [04:00]

SOME of our political leaders need to be given lessons in courtesy.
It doesn't cost anything. It doesn't cost anything to behave like decent and civilised people when you are decent and civilised. It must be some job playing the role of a civilised person without being one. It is a problem that a lot of our politicians have in this country.

They are in the habit of thinking and seeing things in a selfish and arrogant way. They have no respect for their fellow citizens who don't conform to their dictates. They talk to, or about, them as if they are talking to little children or some aliens. Who do they really respect? They don't respect anybody.

It is not respectful or courteous for the President of the country to tell a citizen who is complaining about failing to pay PTA fees to stop having children because the next thing he will be saying is that he can't buy clothes for the children and the government should do so.

There is need for our politicians to realise that the responsibility to look after children is not only a family affair; it is a community and national responsibility. Whatever efforts are made today to look after children, educate them, protect them from diseases, prevent their death, provide them with food, housing, medicine, clothing will shape the basic human qualities of the future population of our country. If we don't look after these children in this way, what sort of country will we hand over to these children? What sort of life lies ahead for these millions of mouths that have to be fed in our poor country, those millions that have to be clothed, shod and sheltered, the millions of minds that will strive for knowledge, those millions of children who will struggle for a decent life, worth at least of the human conditions? What will the quality of their life be like?

It must not be forgotten, however, that the population phenomenon, its growth and impact on the evolution of our country's economy cannot be seriously and rigorously analysed if the social and economic factors that are the basis and main cause of that growth are not taken into account. Our people, the great majority of our people who are poor and constitute over seventy per cent of our country's population, are not poorer or hungrier, nor do they suffer from disease, nor are they illiterate, as a result of their high birth rates.

The production of many children does not respond solely to biological factors; it is above all, precisely the product of the social, economic and cultural conditions to which our people have been subjected through exploitation and marginalisation. It is evident that people's development in itself leads to a reduction in birth rates. One could speak about birth control, family planning, population policy on a moral, ethical and truly human basis if the first action is aimed precisely at solving the factors that give rise to the problem.

The uneven income distribution in our country is still subject to unjust and discriminatory social relations and indicates the need for deep essential changes in our political, economic and social structures which will guarantee the broad majority access to the benefits of development policies.

Consequently, the causes of the current dramatic problem of poverty, of failing to pay PTA fees lie elsewhere. Hunger is a phenomenon intimately associated with poverty, with the market income imbalances in our country, with lack of opportunities, with ignorance, inequalities and injustice.

As long as services like education and health fail to be considered as a fundamental right of man and a duty of the community; as long as the responsibility of the state and of society in regard to education and healthcare fail to be recognised; as long as inequalities in the distribution of education and health services fail to disappear; as long as poverty, hunger, ignorance and squalor fail to be directly fought against, little will be achieved in improving the conditions of our people.

While poverty is the basis of the present situation in our country and is directly related to the serious problem of low income for the large segment of our country's population, it is in turn closely linked to the employment situation.

The phenomenon of unemployment and underemployment is another facet of our present social situation. It cannot be seen as a mere quantitative issue but as a qualitative result of the irrational and unjust nature of our existing system of economic relations. From it stems the paradox that productive human capacity is not fully used in a country where there is so much poverty and where the most basic needs of millions of human beings are not being met.

And amidst all this, it shouldn't be forgotten that in general, women suffer incredible exploitation and discrimination in our country and are forced to bear the brunt of poverty in the economic sphere as well as in the sphere of education and health. As a sector of our society, women suffer doubly all the calamities related to living conditions that exist in our country. This is simply because they are the ones that bear the heavy burden of the home, of raising the PTA fees, they are the worst hit by lack of hospitals, medical care, schools, children's institutions, child-mother programmes, hygiene, and so on and so forth. An extremely high number of our women receive no attention during pregnancy. A much higher percentage die during delivery without any type of care; and it is women who must see half their children die before they are fifteen years old.

The failure by some parents to pay PTA fees is a singular national economic and social phenomenon that needs to be addressed in a serious and thoughtful manner - and not telling citizens to stop producing children if they are not able to pay PTA fees. It is first and foremost, a political fact. While it may be isolated for individual analysis, all its manifestations are integrated into a single whole, the basis of which is but an unjust economic order and blatant inequality in the distribution of wealth among our people. For some people, like our President and ourselves, paying PTA fees is nothing, it is done without effort or thought but for others, it is a big problem.

A comprehensive approach is required to address this situation and to struggle for diminishing or eradication of such poverty and inequalities. It is not, as some say, a matter of people stopping producing children or lowering fertility and birth rates separately to check or control irresponsibility among parents. It is a question of improving the quality of life.

The trend which serves as the basis for the sombre immediate outlook for our country are the most obvious expressions of the unbelievable situation of injustice prevailing in our country today. But they are not necessarily inexorable. We can, if we really want, act to change that increasingly unjust future for one that is bright and equitable.



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