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Equal Education’s 4th national Congress – Frequently Asked Questions

Equal Education’s 4th national Congress 

Frequently Asked Questions (English) 

Should you have any further questions related to our Congress please ask the EE staff in your province for clarity or send your questions to the EE WhatsApp line! (021 361 0127) 

What is Equal Education’s (EE) national Congress? 

The national Congress is a key moment for EE. At Congress the following processes take place:

  • Amendments to EE’s constitution are debated and adopted;
  • Resolutions on EE’s political and campaign priorities are adopted;
  • Members get to learn about and debate issues in education and politics;
  • Congress is also an important space in which to learn and unlearn (The process of learning and unlearning is to allow space for learning without judgment, the willingness to let go of lessons that are not necessary for us to grow consciously); and
  • Congress is where our new leadership is democratically elected. This leadership includes the General Secretary, Deputy General Secretary and the other members of EE’s National Council (NC).

Why was the 4th national Congress postponed to 2022?

The COVID-19 pandemic made planning for our 4th national Congress very challenging.

The government restrictions on gatherings and movement, as well as the closing of schools and longer  holidays were all factors that contributed to the postponement of Congress. The start of the third wave of COVID infections was at the same time as we had planned to hold provincial conferences and pre-Congress seminars, and this derailed the process – the decision was then made by the NC to postpone Congress to 2022.

How was the 4th national Congress postponed to 2022?

The Secretariat (guides, supports and directs the policy and strategy of EE between meetings of the NC) consulted with the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC), to get a legal opinion to understand exactly what EE’s Constitution says about when Congress must take place, and the decisions that the NC is empowered to make about when Congress takes place.  

The EELC recommended that EE’s Constitution requires us to hold a national Congress at which we elect leadership at least every three years. This does not mean that Congress must be held at exactly the same time every three years, but that it must be held more or less every three years and definitely before the 4th anniversary of the previous Congress (our 3rd Congress was held in July 2018).

The resolution to postpone Congress was adopted by the NC, and the date for the 4th national Congress has been set as April 2022.

The Road to Congress

In preparation for Congress, EE holds a “road to Congress” which aims to lay the foundation for a vibrant national Congress. As explained in more detail below, the road to Congress deepens our internal democracy; it provides space for the input of EE’s members; and it produces delegates who are democratically elected to attend Congress and are well prepared to participate in the national Congress.  

An important step in the road to Congress is provincial conferences held in all five of the provinces we are organised in. Here, hundreds of EE members gather to engage on proposed constitutional amendments, draft resolutions arising from branch discussions and elect delegates to attend the national Congress.

Another important step in the lead up to Congress are pre-Congress seminars. Pre-Congress seminars (PCS) are Congress delegate seminars that are geared towards preparing elected delegates for Congress. About one – two weeks prior to a national Congress, each organising province holds a pre-Congress seminar for the elected provincial delegates only, which is aimed at:

  1. Final preparations for Congress delegates in each province. The content is focused on:
    • The structure of EE’s governance and democracy, the role of the NC and its members.
    • Discussion documents produced by Commissions.
    • Debating and refining proposed Constitutional amendments and resolutions emerging from branch meetings and provincial conferences.
  2. The nomination process for delegates who want to stand for NC positions

What is the current timeline for the Road to the 4th national Congress?

Jan – Feb 2022 Youth groups in preparation for national Congress

19 March 2022 Provincial conferences

The provincial conferences are mass one-day meetings held in provinces to elect their delegations to the national Congress.

9 April 2022 Pre-Congress seminars

The pre-Congress seminar is a meeting for the elected delegates to Congress to finalise the nominations for the new NC and the suggested resolutions of Congress.

29 April – 2 May The Equal Education 4th national Congress

Where will the 4th national Congress be held?

The 4th national Congress will be held in the Western Cape.

Who goes to Congress?

The 4th national Congress will be a smaller Congress than EE has held in the past. This is to be in compliance with COVID-19 gathering regulations.

The numbers of delegates from each province will be determined by the results of the 2021 membership audit.

At the provincial conferences provinces will elect their delegations to Congress. This should include those intending to run for election at the national Congress.

Some key national staff and external observers will also be present at Congress.

What happens at Congress?

Congress includes these major processes:

  • Reports by the current leadership

The Chairperson (head of the NC) gives a report on the way that the NC has led the movement and the important decisions they have made. The General Secretary or Deputy General Secretary (heads of EE’s daily work) gives a report on EE’s offices, campaigns, and progress that has been made. The Treasurer (in charge of making sure EE’s money is used properly) gives a report on how EE has spent its money and what has been done to make sure that EE has enough money to keep running in the future.

  • The Charter for an Equal Education will be launched at the 4th national Congress.
  • Commissions

Sessions at the national Congress will cover commission topics determined before Congress.

  • Resolutions

Resolutions will be passed which will determine EE’s focus of work for the next term.

  • Constitutional amendments

Should any amendments to  EE’s Constitution be required, these will be finalised and ratified at the national Congress.

  • Elections for the new National Council 

Nominated candidates will come to Congress and have an opportunity to motivate for their election. The delegates at national Congress will vote for the new NC and the successful candidates will be announced at the end of the Congress.

What are the National Council positions up for election at the national Congress?

There are six key NC positions which must be elected at Congress:

  • NC Chairperson (non-EE staff member)
  • Two Deputy Chairpersons (one Deputy Chair should be a post-school youth member not older than 25, and the other a school-going youth member not younger than turning 14 in the year of assuming office)
  • General Secretary (full time position)
  • Deputy General Secretary (full time position)
  • Treasurer

The additional members of the new (incoming) NC can be elected at Congress or through other processes. These are:

  • One representative from each designated province
  • A maximum of two parent-members
  • A maximum of five Equalisers 
  • A maximum of five post-school youth
  • A maximum of five additional co-opted members

In total the NC must consist of at least eight members, but no more than 28.

What are Commissions?

  • The NC of EE instructs that focus groups of EE members, elected at branch level, form special committees. The committee’s role is to investigate, discuss and recommend a discussion document featuring specific issues to be discussed at EE’s provincial conferences and that will be used as a guide when discussing our new Congress resolutions. 
  • The members required per committee are: Two NC members (one to be chair of the committee), two Equalisers/Leadership Committee members, one Facilitator, one parent and one ex-officio member (EE researcher)
  • There must be seven members per Commission committee. 

What are commission topics? 

  • Commission topics are content and subject areas that are recommended by EE members as relevant discussion topics at Congress. For example, Local & Global Solidarity was a commission topic at the 3rd National Congress.

What will happen if we cannot hold an in-person Congress in 2022? 

The Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented and how this will affect us in the future is unpredictable.

We hope that with the vaccine rollout the coming waves of infections will be shorter and less intense, with fewer gathering restrictions required.

You can access EE’s Constitution here or from our website.

Leanne Jansen-ThomasEqual Education’s 4th national Congress – Frequently Asked Questions