When the riots happened in the UK I felt a part of it because of family and friends who still live in the UK but not being there I couldn’t fully understand the situation. Well, no I have riots on my doorstep as local young people in Reunion have started rioting as well. Why? It started off with truck drivers protesting about petrol prices but then you people jumped in and used it as an excuse to show their anger at the high level of youth unemployment (60%).
“Youth unemployment is very high on the island … so it takes very little to push young people over the edge”
“Riots are cyclical here; the last ones took place in 2009. It’s as if people had to blow their tops once in a while for the tension to come down again”
“With elections coming up, this is the young people’s chance to voice their grievances”
-Quotes from the local press.
Reunion is a small place, very small, so these kids are destroying shops where their friends and family shop or even work. This fact is very disturbing but as a teacher I have to wonder if I have taught any of these kids or if my friends have or if we know them or their families.
Unemployment is a serious problem everywhere but is education the solution? Surely with free university places up to PhD level and free bursaries, these kids would have more chances of employment? Many of them leave school at 18 but if there is no work why do they do it? Family pressure? Peer pressure? Or as the media would like us to believe, they just want to sponge off social security. If that is true then why are they rioting?
Is it a case of the education system failing them. After all, you still need good marks to get into uni. I know that many of the schools these kids go to are bad and have an air of failure from the teachers. They moan about their bad and ‘stupid’ students who will never do anything and who are all from Africa or nearby islands. This is a serious problem. Should they be integrated or should the teachers be educated. After all, I was always told “there is no such thing as a bad student, just a bad teacher”. Is this true? Can we change every student and help them create a new future, even if it clashes with their home situation and culture of relying on the state.
I do hope I make a difference to all my students but I know a few teachers who just see it as an easy job so much so that they just do it for the paid holidays. I don’t get paid holidays but I do try to stimulate my students and open their minds. Is this enough? I don’t know but I think it helps.
END NOTE. After 1 week of rioting all food prices have been reduced and petrol. Everyone is happy that they can afford rice and basic vegetables. The riots were not really supported by the youths said it was the only way the islanders would be able to afford food.