On Youth Day, 16 June 2011, learners from schools in the Johannesburg area marched to Constitution Hill, demanding equal and quality basic education for all people in South Africa. The march was organised by the Johannesburg Junior Council (JJC). EE supported the march, and Yoliswa Dwane, head of our Policy, Communications and Research Department, addressed the gathering outside the Constitutional Court.
The march also provided a platform for learners to display their talents, such as marimba-playing, dancing and singing, and the performances were enjoyed by all. But while we celebrate the youth and commemorate the struggle of learners in 1976, we should not forget that we are still faced with the massive challenge of poor and unequal education in this country.
Quality education continues to be a privilege enjoyed by only a fraction of South Africa’s learners. For instance, schools remain hugely unequal in terms of infrastructure: about 92% of schools do not have stocked, functional libraries, 95% of schools do not have stocked laboratories and 90% of schools are without computer centres (National Education Infrastructure Management System Report, 2009). The organisers and the learners, parents and community members who participated in the march, share EE’s view that this should not be the case, and that quality education is the right of every learner.
We are impressed by the energy and initiative shown by the young people who organised and attended the march. It was also encouraging to see learners from working-class, former Model C schools and private schools come together and voice the same demand: equal and quality education. We now encourage the learners to build on the foundations they have laid and to continue working together for an equal education system in South Africa.
See pictures of the march here.