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Report on Thursday’s Picket

On 17 February, Equal Education (EE) held its first picket of the year. Learners gathered outside Parliament as the light faded to highlight the education crisis in the Eastern Cape. It was inspiring to see EE’s members demonstrating so strongly again.

With help from Cape Town High School, who lent us desks and chairs, a make shift classroom was set up under the trees to symbolise what so many learners in the Eastern Cape have to tolerate daily. Photos showing the conditions in the province were tied to the fence.  The ‘class’ was addressed by speakers, including EE’s young leaders, Nokubonga Ralayo and Pharie Sefali, who were the MCs for the event. Both gave stirring speeches about what is happening in the province.

Speakers  from No-ofisi Senior Primary School near Bulungula travelled to Cape Town especially for the picket. Annette Champion, Education Programmes Manager of Bulungula Incubator spoke of her daily experience of the crisis in the rural community in which she works.

Facts were given by two of our researchers, Shehnaz Cassim and Rumbi Goredema and the demand, ‘Eradicate Mud Schools!’ was written in mud on the pavement, in a display of protest art. To conclude the event, a memorandum was handed over to Dingane Ngobeni – the Minister of Basic Education’s Chief of Staff, the Honourable Dudley from the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and a representative from the Presidency.

It remains that 395 schools in the Eastern Cape are built with walls made out of mud. 100,000 learners are currently without transport to school. Many learners are walking long distances to school in the heavy rain that the province has been experiencing. Tens of thousands are going hungry because the School Nutrition Program in the Eastern Cape has been stopped due to lack of funds. We need to eradicate mud schools and solve this crisis!

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Carla GoldsteinReport on Thursday’s Picket