A delegation of 30 Equal Education (EE) members attended the SA Basic Education Conference held at the Durban ICC, held over 2-4 April 2012. The conference represented one of the largest gatherings of academics, educational practitioners, teachers, principals and NGO’s in recent times to discuss the challenges in, and share ideas to improve, basic education in South Africa.
EE wishes to congratulate the conference organisers who put together an engaging programme centred on the theme of improving educational quality in South Africa. EE members delivered two presentations at the conference, one about Community Organising in Education, and the other about the Right to Education – specifically in regard to school infrastructure.
EE members livened up the conference through their active participation in sessions as well as holding daily pickets outside the venue, pamphleteering the delegates and a flashmob drawing attention to EE’s campaign and court case for Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. Brad Brockman, Head of Youth & Community at EE, explains: “These activities remind delegates that the majority of schools remain without the basic resources they require to deliver quality education. 90% of all schools remain without computer centres, 95% without science laboratories and 93% without libraries.”
While the conference brought together some of the most prominent academics, personalities and thought leaders in the country, it was unfortunate that the National Department of Basic Education chose not attend conference. The official conference programme includes a short message from Minster of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga, which said: “The responsibility of improving education is one that we all share… Working together we can do more to tackle current challenges and greatly improve [the] quality of education.” Despite the Minister’s words the DBE missed a rare opportunity to engage with so many partners committed to improving education and a worthwhile sharing of essential knowledge and practice that has occurred over the past three days.
Although organised during the school holidays – which allowed for the participation of teachers and principals, the EE delegation represented the only school learners at the conference (except for the opening presentation which did include one learner). EE feels that any real, comprehensive and valuable debate about improving the quality of basic education must include the voice of learners, who themselves bear the direct effects of a failing education system. The conference organisers should ensure a greater representation of learners at future conferences. EE will also seek to contribute towards ensuring this.
The EE delegation has greatly appreciated the opportunity to participate in the conference, and feels that given the significance of the discussions it generated that this should become an annual event.
For more information please contact Brad Brockman/ 072 267 8489, Joey Hasson/ 082 374 6555 or Ntuthuzo Ndzomo/ 072 931 4343