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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912

Abstract

SERFONTEIN, Erika Mariane. Education, the path to a quality of life - the optimal realisation of the right to life. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2015, vol.55, n.1, pp. 62-74. ISSN 2224-7912.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2224-7912/2015/V55N1A5.

Against the background of the aims as expressed in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, namely to improve the quality of life of all citizens and to free everyone's potential, the perplexities of the right to life is studied. The aim hereof is to conceptually articulate this pivotal right and outline it as inclusive of the entitlement to what is necessary for the safeguarding or provision of a life worth living. An analysis of case law revealed that, when dealing with the right to life, courts almost always placed emphasis on the right to die with dignity or not to die at all. This is done within the ambit of circumstances entailing among others abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, self-defence and access to health care. This article however takes a different stance of the right to life by arguing that reality in its diversity is encapsulated in life both as the wholeness of an individual and society at large and the nodal point of human existence. The importance of researching education as a path to a quality of life is evident when cognisance is taken of the fact that, although initiatives taken by the State have thus far been a step in the right direction for some South African citizens to report a good quality of life, the majority still struggles because of the social divisions and inequalities that remain (SASAS 2008). It is argued that the right to life must be conseptualised as an entitlement to a life with human dignity, knowledge, self-confidence and self-respect, thus encapsulating a quality of life. Although the State is constitutionally obliged to fulfil the basic needs of all its citizens, it is clearly stated that humans must accept responsibility for their own as well as the life of others. They cannot merely rely on others for their own well-being. Humans must, by way of quality education, be moulded and guided to self-determination and self-entitlement. Only then can man change and even create his own circumstances in order to ensure a quality of life for himself and others. Education has the potential to empower humans to take control of their own destiny (Krause 2012:49; Spinner-Halev 2012:169), to make rational and informed decisions and to choose the conditions under which they live (Rodin 2004:65). Education can, moreover, empower them to democratic participation (Freire 1993:12) and to hold the State accountable for protecting their rights and taking the necessary steps to meet their needs adequately. Cognisance must, however, be taken of the fact that South Africans cannot be seen as individuals apart from their country and people. In contrast to the individualistic nature of Western cultures, South Africans underscore the principle of ubuntu - the individual is part of a whole; he is a human-human: he belongs, therefore he exists (De Klerk 2012:35). The importance of receiving a quality education to realise optimally each South African's right to life whilst respecting diversity, is accordingly found to be essential.

Keywords : the right to life; right to a basic education; quality of life; quality; human dignity; empowerment; self-actualisation; self-entitlement; self-respect; education; responsibility; ubuntu; basic human needs; well-being.

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