Teaching in the Shadows of Social Injustice

Teachers in Brazil, protesting their poor working conditions and paltry wages for undertaking one of the most essential jobs in the world today-educating future generations-were brutally attacked by security forces as they protested for better pay and working conditions. While their rally was hijacked by anarchists and other groups fed up with the gross inequalities which have characterized Brazil for decades; the teachers’ protests are receiving more attention because Brazil is to host two of the world’s most watched and attended sporting spectacles: The FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic games in 2016.
Sport in itself is an essential part of the social and psychological dynamic of human societies, and has been for thousands of years. The kinds of sporting activities which have evolved through to today are for the most part based on fair competition with the sole purpose of excelling in and accomplishing extraordinary human achievements whilst showing courage, determination and perseverance in a particular field. These core values of competitive sport make any game or competition such an exciting spectator event and fuels local, national and international fervor to the point that one’s life-style, social status and reputation may be determined by the sport they follow and the club brand to which they hold allegiance. Football, Cricket, the NBA, the NFL, Tennis, Baseball, Rugby Union & League, as well as Swimming, Sailing and Skiing are featured among the top elite sports in the world. The respective affiliations and clubs which host these sports are for the most part multi-billion dollar a year industries and are legitimized through their own hierarchical structures and law governing bodies each in some way linked to the corporate world of advanced capitalism. And herein lays the rub for ordinary folk.
What justification can there be for paying anyone in excess of $400,000 per week when the global average wage per week is around $600 per week; if you are lucky enough not to be born in any of the developing countries of the world? While top footballers like Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo offer us scintillating performances as skilled footballers; from a social justice and equality stance there is no justification for the kind of money they earn as professionals. Therefore, it is totally acceptable for teachers in Brazil or anywhere else for that matter, who may only earn as little as $1600 per month to protest, given their profession is essential, while footballers’ jobs, and myriad other sporting professionals’ jobs are non-essential.
Brazil has come to accept the gross social and economic inequalities in its country as the norm. This is wrong. The people’s right to protest is an inalienable right, especially as they are paying out billions of dollars on their country’s credit card to host two of the world’s most prestigious sporting spectacles. While the World Cup and the 31st Olympiad will bring a lot of kudos and cash to pay off the debt accumulated by the country in the short term, the long term goal of providing decent housing, decent jobs, decent wages and alleviating poverty fades away.
Nelson Mandela reminds us that the globalization of professional sport means, as it so often does, “that the rich and powerful now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the poorer and weaker, and that we have a right and a responsibility to protest in the name of universal freedom”.

One comment on “Teaching in the Shadows of Social Injustice

  1. Michael says:

    I can relate to paltry wages in a wealthy setting.
    Teachers may be “respected” but their wages are often not a measure of “economic respect”. More lessons to be learned.

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