Equal Education held a hugely important and completely successful event on Human Rights Day, 21 March 2010. This event represents the full arrival of a major new force in South African civil society.
Today, more than 10 000 people gathered on the Grand Parade in Central Cape Town in support of Equal Education’s Campaign for School Libraries and Human Rights Concert.
Those assembled marched on to Parliament where they delivered a Memorandum
endorsed by more 50 organisations, petitions signed by 65 000 people, and copies of EE's research report
into school libraries, to the Director-General of Basic Education, Mr. Bobby Soobrayan.
Equal Education is campaigning for every school in South Africa to have a fully functional library. At present, this is only true for 8 percent of public schools. Phathiswa Shushwana, a grade 10 learner at Luhlaza High School and a member of Equal Education, gave a brilliant speech
emphasising that education is a basic right and that poor areas are in desperate need of libraries, as learners in these areas don’t have books at home. She added that libraries improve literacy as well as motivate students.
COSATU General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, pledged COSATU’s full support for EE’s campaign, and said that every school ought to have a library, a laboratory and proper infrastructure. He encouraged teachers to support the Campaign and to play a greater role in improving the education system. Similarly, he encouraged students to be disciplined, to arrive on time all the time, and to do their homework. Asked for his thoughts on the march, Vavi said that it took him back to his youth as a leader in the student movement in the 1980s, and that it was exciting to be part of this event.
Simphiwe Dana referred to herself as “a survivor of Bantu Education, not a product of it” and said that her mind survived partly because she had books in her school library. She urged government to restore dignity back to the children of South Africa.
HHP was the main performer of the day. He said that the onus is on learners to take responsibility for their education and future, and that today was a historic day because everyone was pulling together for change.
Yoliswa Dwane of Equal Education, in the final address
to the crowd, said: “Today, the majority of children in South Africa are not able to read, write and count adequately, and this is mainly because of poor quality education and unequal access to resources in South African education." Adding that, “unless, inequalities are addressed in this education system it will not transform our society and it will continue crippling and killing softly those who attend working class schools.”
Notably, Nobel Prize winning author, Wole Soyinka, Prof Njabulo Ndebele, Vuyiseka Dubula, Graeme Bloch and Cheryl Carolus were also in attendance.
For more information contact:
Yoliswa Dwane: 072 342 7747
Doron Isaacs: 082 850 2111