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Statement of the first Equal Education National Council Meeting

On 11 July, at the conclusion of EE’s first National Congress, a National Council (NC) was elected to govern the organisation. It met today in Cape Town for the first time.

South Africa needs Decisive Leadership for Transformation, Equality and Freedom.

The NC is deeply concerned about the challenges facing the country, particularly in light of recent events. None of the challenges facing South Africa can be met without a strong democracy. The Protection of State Information Bill is a very deep threat to democracy. It will make brave citizens who expose corruption into criminals, and will stifle freedom in South Africa.

The killing of 34 miners at the Lonmin Mine at Marikana shows the need to urgently intensify organized struggles for equality. Miners, who work long hours underground, in conditions that put them in constant danger and are likely to make them chronically ill later in life, should not be earning a mere R4,000 a month. The corruption, weakness and lack of progress resolve at the heart of our government have resulted in citizens taking desperate risks. In this context we condemn those who seek to advance a purely personal agenda on the backs of the genuine struggles of the workers and the poor. We urge our allies NUM and COSATU to strengthen their grassroots struggles and renew their efforts to champion the struggles of these and other workers for an income able to provide for a dignified life. We urge communities and civil society to step up non-violent organisation and mobilisation to wage struggles for quality education, health-care, sanitation, housing, employment and other services.

The Campaign for Norms & Standards for School Infrastructure is Critical!

The campaign aims to secure minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure, for every school in South Africa. Minister Angie Motshekga agrees that decent school infrastructure is vital to quality education. With a standard – determined by the Minister – every community would be able to hold their district and province accountable, and campaign effectively for better schools. Decent school infrastructure will lay a foundation for a range of other campaigns for quality teaching and learning.

On 20 November 2012 EE’s case for norms and standards will be heard in the Bhisho High Court. Only the Minister is opposing the case. The MEC’s for all 9 provinces, and the Minister of Finance have told the court that they do not oppose the case.

EE will be escalating its campaign and mobilization in the lead-up to 20 November. Protests of various kinds are being planned:

·         Write-in picket: On 25 September EE is holding a write-in picket outside Parliament, where people will e-mail, fax, post and contact the Minister’s office.

·         March in Kraaifontein, Cape Town: On 10 October EE is marching in Kraaifontein for norms and standards. A taskteam headed by Adam Sack and Zintle Makoba are organising this.

·         Major mobilisation pre 20-Nov: In the week of the court case there will be major mobilisation (to be announced) in the Eastern Cape and other parts of the country.

Moshesh Senior Secondary School in Matatiele

The situation in Moshesh Senior Secondary School in Matatiele, Eastern Cape, is one of the worst cases of mismanagement EE has ever seen. The students wrote to EE explaining that the principal was absent from October 2011 until June 2012. Teachers sometimes arrive at school at 12 noon and are sometimes drunk. An English teacher who has not been teaching for five years is still receiving a salary. The ECDoE have recently claimed to be acting to improve the situation, and EE will monitor this.

EE has visited the school, made a film, and brought new equalisers from the community to EE Congress. A task team continues to follow this up, which comprises the following: Kathryn Schneider, Yoliswa Dwane, Precillar Moyo, Ntuthuzo Ndzomo and Bayanda Mazwi. In the coming week the task team will visit Matatiele again, and will take statements and begin to prepare affidavits with a view to urgent legal action.

Closure of 27 Schools in the Western Cape

EE is concerned that the process by which the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has embarked upon closing 27 schools has been problematic. It has involved inadequate consultation, and the timing is problematic in that the process concludes after 7 September, the date upon which all learners must have enrolled in schools for 2013.

Although the closure of some of the schools seems justified, it does not seem justified in regard to various others, possibly including Zonnebloem, Peakview, Beauvallon and Lavisrylaan. EE sees three problems: (1) that ‘underperformance’ is being used as a reason to close schools where the WCED has not done enough to address the underperformance; (2) that there is some evidence the WCED would prefer learners to attend schools in “their” communities; (3) that in some instances schools closures may be to the detriment, rather than the benefit, of the quality of education of various learners to do issues of distance, safety, language, subject choice and other issues.

The EE Law Centre, on behalf of EE is doing all the necessary preparatory work should legal action become necessary. This will be determined after the presumed final announcement of the closures towards the end of September. In the meanwhile EE has met with the WCED and held a march today in Cape Town.

Organisational Resolutions

Consultation:  The NC agenda will be published before the meetings, and NC members will get input from membership structures. NC members will do report backs after NC meetings. In addition to the minutes there will also be a summary statement of each NC meeting which is easily and immediately accessible.

EC and KZN representation on the NC: The NC has received requests from comrades in the EC and KZN to join the NC. These will be considered at the next NC meeting.

Supporting EE provinces without offices: A task team of Brad Brockman, Ntuthuzo Ndzomo and Phathu Mlandu will investigate this.

Co-option of NC members: The NC resolved to co-opt Mary Metcalfe, Paula Ensor and Zackie Achmat as experienced comrades onto the NC. And it was resolved to co-opt Vuyiseka Dubula as a representative of a partner organisation. We will await confirmation from these invited NC members.

Community Leadership Program: The NC resolved that the CL program will be changed. In future it may become more weighted towards being community-based. The GS Brad Brockman will present recommendations to the next NC meeting.

Constitution Workshops: The workshops to study and understand the EE constitution will be held in early 2012.

Disciplinary Committee: The interim Disciplinary Committee meets tomorrow, Sunday 16 September, for the first time. It consists of Bayanda Mazwi, Lwando Mzandisi, Paula Ensor and Brad Brockman.

For more information:

Yoliswa Dwane (EE Chairperson) 0723427747

Ntuthuzo Ndzomo (EE Deputy Chairperson) 0729314343

Brad Brockman (EE General Secretary) 0722678489

Doron Isaacs (EE Deputy General Secretary) 082 850 2111 

Carla GoldsteinStatement of the first Equal Education National Council Meeting