Dear President Zuma,

In 1990, the attention of the world was on South Africa as we witnessed the release of Nelson Mandela. His release from prison inspired hope in a South Africa free from the tyranny of oppression and a society based on equality, freedom and the dignity of all human beings.

Much has been achieved by the democratically elected government. For South Africa to fully realise the dream of an equal and prosperous nation its children need to receive the best quality education possible. Education remains the best weapon against poverty, one that can bring about real change in the lives of the poorest members of society.

In the early 1950s both learners and their parents rejected the Bantu Education system intended by the apostle of apartheid Hendrik Verwoerd to limit them to become no more than hewers of wood and drawers of water. The youth of 1976 realised the value of education in improving their circumstances and thus took to the streets to demand a quality education.

The youth of today share the same passion and place the same value on receiving an excellent education.

The eyes of the world are once again on South Africa as it celebrates the fantastic achievement of hosting the first FIFA World Cup in Africa.

Equal Education is a new movement of young people, their parents, and teachers who are advocating for that most fundamental of rights which gives people the tools to better their lives. President Zuma, these young activists are a credit to South Africa and our struggle for democracy and equality for all.

Both local and international research indicates that one way of improving literacy and the overall academic performance of learners is for every public school to have a well stocked and adequately staffed library. At present only 8% of schools in South Africa have functioning libraries.

In his book, Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela wrote, “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mine worker can become the head of that mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation.”

Nobel Prize Laureate Nadine Gordimer has repeatedly said that she became a writer because there was a library in the small town she was born in, which she used during her early age.

I am adding my name to the call by Equal Education for quality and equality in education by supporting the ONE SCHOOL, ONE LIBRARY, ONE LIBRARIAN CAMPAIGN.


George Bizos

A further 100 national and international activists, authors and leaders in education, from 40 different countries, have added their signature to Bizos’ call:

Click here to view the letter with all endorsements