The Equal Education (EE) Fast for School Libraries was a huge success. More than 5000 people fasted countrywide. The fast took place from 18:00 on 29 July until 18:00 on 30 July. The purpose was to ensure that government creates a budget for school libraries, posts for school librarians and an implementation plan.
Thus far, the year-long Campaign for School Libraries, led by Equal Education, has secured the publication, on 11 June 2010, in the Government Gazette, of a policy that recognizes the need for each school to have access to a library or library stocks. Government is also developing ‘School Library Guidelines’. The Fast was aimed at ensuring that these provide for a budget, posts and a plan.
EE kicked off the Fast with about 750 activists at pre-fast meals across the country, while others began the fast from home and work. At the opening of the Fast in Cape Town Speeches were given by learners from several school as well as Monde Nqulwana from COSATU and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, head of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. In Limpopo, speeches were given by Professor Netshidama from The University of Venda and Councilor Ratshitanga.
Friday 30 July dawned with learners, parents, teachers, activists and public figures facing another 12 hours of fasting. Throughout the day big numbers were reported in Cape Town, namely 600 learners at Salt River High School (the entire school) as well as over 200 of their parents; 245 learners at Westerford along with many of their teachers; Learners from schools across Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein and Bontehewuwel –EE’s core areas – with schools such as Hector Pietersen, Chris Hani, and Harry Gwala fasting in large numbers.
The fast also spread beyond EE's core areas. Over 200 learners fasted at Oscar Mpeta High School in Nyanga. Over 100 younger children fasted for half at day at Zimasa Intermediary School. All over the country, people fasted. From Sehunelo High School in Free State, to Lyttelton Manor Secondary School in Centurion, to Munzhedzi Primary School and the University of Venda in Limpopo, students and teachers fasted together.
For all the young people who participated this fast deepened their commitment to their education, and to democracy; a generation is being politicized around a crucial human right: they engaged in a peaceful protest for a cause that is pushing for a brighter future for them, their peers and their families.
The breaking of the Fast in Johannesburg was held at Constitution Hill. Graeme Bloch, an education expert and EE board member addressed the gathering, along with Stephanie Van Straten, Mayor of the Johannesburg Student Council.
In Thoyandou, a group of 100 people spent the entire day together, listening to poems, speeches, and words of encouragement.
In Cape Town, the fast concluded with a large picket outside the Cape Town Book Fair. Speeches were given by Mark Heywood who told the crowd that Equal Education’s goal would be realized. Ncumisa Nyamende a 21 year old Learner who attends Joe Slovo High School said:
“My personal reason for fasting is to show the world that I can do anything for my education and they will see that I am serious about my education. I also want my President to see that as a black person I also want a good education and I want to have libraries at schools so that we can improve the pass rate.”
Yoliswa Dwane, Head of Policy, Communications & Research at EE, read out the Memorandum, and handed it to Randel van Den Heever the Parliamentary Liaison for the Minister of Basic Education, and Sadika Ahmed and Juliet van Niekerk on behalf of the Publishers Association of South Africa. The memorandum calls for: the Minister of Finance to investigate the feasibility of a VAT exemption on textbooks and books bought for school libraries; the Minister of Trade and Industry to investigate lowering import tariffs on tertiary-level textbooks and books for school libraries; and the Publishers Association of South Africa to work together with government to reduce the price of textbooks and books for school libraries. The Equal Education (EE) Fast for School Libraries was a huge success. More than 5000 people fasted countrywide. The fast took place from 18:00 on 29 July until 18:00 on 30 July. The purpose was to ensure that government creates a budget for school libraries, posts for school librarians and an implementation plan.
For more information:
Dmitri Holzman: 082 733 5000
Yoliswa Dwane: 021 387 0022 firstname.lastname@example.org
Caroline Madzhie, 0722938201 Carolinendivhuwo.Madzhie@univen.ac.za
Samuel Fenyane, 0781913703 email@example.com
Moses Masitha 084 273 3537 MosesMasitha@gmail.com