On Saturday, 7 May 2011 a small group of parents and EE members gathered at the Evangelical Mission Church in Khayelitsha for a public meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to inform parents about EE’s work and to update them on our campaign for Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. The meeting was also part of the drive to involve more of our members’ parents as active participants in the EE movement.
The meeting started with an overview of EE’s history and campaigns, and a video screening of our 2010 trip to the Eastern Cape, which centred on the problem of mud schools in the province (395 schools in the Eastern Cape are still classified as “mud schools”). In the video, parents spoke candidly of their anger and frustration about the fact that their children were still attending mud schools, and their anxiety about the health and safety of their children.
This was followed by a group discussion where the parents could reflect on the situation in the Eastern Cape. They also discussed the role parents should play in their children’s education and the way forward in terms of greater parent involvement in the EE movement. Ma Andiswa Kolanisi of Macassar was one of the facilitators. During the meeting, she urged mothers in particular to come together and make their cries over the poor quality of their children’s education heard, asking: “If we don’t stand up for our children’s education, who will?”
We will soon be kicking off a series of workshops for parents. The pilot workshops will predominantly involve parents from a focused area in Khayelitsha.
A central part of EE’s work is youth leadership development and mobilising learners in the struggle for equal and quality education. However, in order for our schools and education system to transform, and for Government and school governing bodies to be held accountable by the communities they serve, parents, too, need to become active and informed participants. It is vital that more parents become education activists, and it is anticipated that the workshops will be a step in this direction.