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March for education: Be on time all the time

On Tuesday 12 May 2009, about 1,000 people gathered in Khayelitsha to march for education. The messages of the march were the importance of being on time and the need for partnerships for quality and equality in education.



Today we are marching for education. We are saying “Be on time, all the time. We are asking for partnership between schools, government and community.


Learners arriving at school late is a problem nationwide. Late-coming affects pass-rates and the functioning of the school. Research conducted by Wittenberg1 and others2 shows that:

  • – 20% of South African learners arrive late at school every day.
  • – 20% of teaching and learning time is wasted.
  • – An average school day should have 5 hours of teaching time. Up to 2 hours are lost each day for various reasons, including late-coming.


Khayelitsha High Schools experience higher rates of late-coming than the national average. To help solve this problem, Equal Education has embarked on a campaign to assist schools by encouraging learners to come to schools on time, all the time. This campaign was launched Monday 4 May 2009 at 7:30am outside eight high schools in Khayelitsha.

On the positive side, in some schools, like Esangweni, we have seen the campaign gathering momentum and building support. In others, like Harry Gwala, we have seen an amazing decline in the number of late-comers.

This campaign is special because it is driven by learners. It is learners saying to themselves and to each other: We value our education and we take responsibility for it.

Partnership between Schools and Communities

Before the campaign, we notified every school, and wherever possible, met with the Principal. All schools were informed that the campaign takes place before school hours begin, and outside school property. We want to work with schools in addressing the issue of late-coming. We ask all principals in Khayelitsha to work with us, on this and other campaigns.

We are committed to working together with communities, the government, schools and parents, learners and other young people in the improvement of the South African education system. Particularly, we want to work with teachers and their unions to struggle against unequal education.

Schools ought to become places of learning and places that are connected to the people that they serve. We demand that schools be open to community organisations and the community at large. This will help the community to understand of the challenges schools and learners face, improve governance, and help in dealing with infrastructural problems and inequality.

Freedom of Association

Section 18 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa grants everyone the right to freedom of association. This means that teachers have the right to be members of a union, and learners have the right to be members of Equal Education. In fact, we invite our parents, teachers, principals, caretakers and neighbours to join us in Equal Education.

We will defend the rights of our members. There is no place for the intimidation of learners. There is no place for illegal threats of suspension, when learners engage in peaceful, lawful activism. Learners, who dedicate their lives and efforts to improve their own education, and to improve their schools, must be encouraged and supported. We will not be bullied out of our community, Khayelitsha. Many of us live in Khayelitsha and we would like to see an improvement in the education of the children who are living in Khayelitsha. We are here to stay.

Non-racialism and youth activism

We as Equal Education are committed to addressing inequalities in education and the issues that block access to quality education.

We are proud to be an organisation of young people from a wide range of backgrounds. In democratic South Africa it is vital that young people, black and white, work together to realise the vision of a free, equal, non-racial, non-sexist society.

Carla GoldsteinMarch for education: Be on time all the time