Speech delivered by Nontsikelelo Dlulani, a member of EE's Leadership Committee, at the Candlelight Vigil outside Parliament, Cape Town, 12 July 2011.
My name is Nontsikelelo Dlulani and I am a learner from Westridge High School. Parents, Activists, Community Members, and Equalisers, I greet you all. It is a privilege and an honor to be given this opportunity to speak about an issue that is often ignored. This issue many times gets placed at the bottom of priority lists and at the end of political agendas.
In the past 11 years, I have faced many challenges in the personal and collective struggle to receive quality and equal education. While growing up I went to class in a building that was unstable, a place that had broken windows, scarce electricity, no library, and low passing rates due to the lack of resources. When you compared my school to ex-Model C schools like Westerford or Sansouci Girls High School, the gap in resources and opportunity became clear.
I am here because hundreds of thousands of learners across the country don’t have a desk to sit at in their classrooms. I am here because girls and boys across the country many times don’t have safe toilets to go to in their schools. How do you expect us to pass the matric, when we go to schools that have holes in the roof and students get rained on while inside their classrooms? That is why I am here, because of my personal experience, but also because of the experience of learners and equalizers all across the country.
Last year Mama Minister Motshekga created a policy that stated that Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure will be adopted by 1 April 2011. I was one of 20,000 learners who marched for equal education on Human Rights Day to remind the Minister of this deadline. The deadline was missed and we still do not have Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. After the march, I was one of the many Equalisers who wrote letters to the Minister to tell her of our disappointment that she missed the deadline. Our letters got no response and to this day, there are still no Norms and Standards.
The Minister has claimed that she cannot pass this law without the permission of the Provincial MECs, but the law is clear, she must consult with the MECs, but she does not need their permission. It is her responsibility to make sure we have Minimum Norms and Standards for our schools in South Africa.
We learn from Steve Biko’s life and writings that “it is those who are oppressed that must unite and together they must be the champion of their own struggle.” We have done almost everything in our power and we will not give up. We will continue to show the Minister how serious we are about our education, particularly the need for Minimum Norms and Standards. The government has given us many promises about our education system. It is now time to see those promises turned into action. We want and demand an education that prepares us to be future doctors, lawyers, professors, Ministers and Presidents. Every generation has its struggle. Ours is for quality and equal education for all. We are the generation that will make that struggle a reality.