On Sunday evening, 8 July 2012, Equal Education (EE) opened its National Congress at Sam Hlalele Community Hall in Tembisa, Gauteng. The event was attended by over 300 delegates from across the country. Learners, EE staff, post-school youth, librarians, parents, teachers and partner organisations were addressed by Doron Isaacs, EE’s coordinator; Khutso Mmapheto, a Tembisa equaliser; Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and Cosatu General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi. The opening event celebrated the start of EE’s first congress that will transform EE into a mass-based, internally democratic movement.
EE delegates from across the country were welcomed to the opening event by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. The Archbishop reminded all present that: “Education is what brought me from the townships of Soweto and Alexandra to where I am today.” In his opening address he said that “it is a tragedy that good educational opportunities are not available to every boy and girl”. He called on EE to note the challenges that hold back South Africa’s education system but to keep its eye on the vision of quality and equal education for all.
Zwelinzima Vavi congratulated the organisation on its achievements so far and pledged Cosatu’s continued support for EE’s work in the future. Vavi continued: “Education is certainly not free yet and not equal yet for all of our people…The content and the quality of our education remains far below what the Freedom Charter promised us. It is scandalous that after 18 years our education system still reproduces racial and class inequalities.” Vavi called on Minister Motshekga, the Premier of Limpopo and President Jacob Zuma to be held accountable for the textbook crisis in Limpopo.
Doron Isaacs called on the government to be held accountable for the state of education: “We look to our government, our democratic government that we defend, and for whom we voted. But it is losing the confidence of the people. And as far as education goes, it deserves to have lost our confidence, because it perpetuates a disaster for the youth of this country every day.” In closing Isaacs issued the following demands on behalf of EE:
- A judicial commission of enquiry should be established into the Limpopo textbook crisis
- That no new contracts should be entered into with EduSolutions, the Lebone Group, Lebone Litho or any related companies
- Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure, as demanded in EE’s court case, must be promulgated immediately.
Isaacs also posed three questions to be deliberated on by delegates during the congress:
- Should EE form a National Education Crisis Committee of all progressive formations?
- Should EE call for Director General of Basic Education Bobby Soobrayan to be removed?
- Should EE call for Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga to be removed?
These are important questions which EE’s massed-based membership will deliberate on during numerous sessions this week. Other issues including youth and politics both locally and globally and the challenges in education will also be discussed.
EE’s highest decision-making body, the EE board, was appointed when the organisation was started four years ago. The guidance of the board has been indispensable to the growth of EE. However, now it is time for EE’s members to elect the leaders who will represent them at the highest level. At congress delegates will nominate and vote in new leadership. This will enable EE to continue to become a vibrant, internally democratic movement.
EE’s Constitution will also be adopted and become the most important document governing the organisation.
The final event will be a day of mass mobilisation in Tembisa on Thursday, 12 July 2012. The march will start at Tembisa High School at 12h30.
For more information please contact
Yoliswa Dwane on 072 342 7747
Lelethu Kiti on 074 328 0034
Ovayo Wotshela on 073 732 4391
Qayisani Dlakana on 071 089 9820
Doron Isaacs on 082 850 2111
For more information on the congress programme and to arrange entry into the sessions please contact Kate Wilkinson on 082 326 5353