Open letter to the incoming government

Home | Open letter to the incoming government

19 June 2024

Dear Mr President, incoming Minister of Education and MEC of Education in Limpopo

As we approach the hour of the inauguration of new government , we Equalisers (Equal Education learner members) from Ga-Mashashane in Limpopo want to reflect on the current unacceptable state of our schools and to repeat the calls we have made to government to make sure that we have safe, encouraging and accessible school environments. Because we are under the age of 18, we could not contribute to democracy by registering our views on the ballot. We have therefore, chosen to speak about our struggles to holistically access our right to education in schools that have broken and unsafe infrastructure, unreliable water, unsafe school environments, textbook and reading book shortages and overcrowded classrooms. 

Water and Sanitation

The Limpopo province has some of the worst examples of inequality and a broken education system. The infrastructure backlogs in the more rural parts of the province are vast. The Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure (school infrastructure law) and the Komape court case –where Equal Education (EE) was a friend of the court– made the Limpopo Department of Education (LDoE)  remove plain pit toilets and supply rainwater harvesting tanks or boreholes to many of our schools. But we are still very concerned that some of our younger siblings in schools like Tutwana Primary and Mashashane Primary are still using dangerous plain pit toilets. We are also worried about the new infrastructure in our schools, new toilets are breaking because they are not being maintained. Our toilets and water facilities are being vandalised because our schools do not have enough security and fencing. More and more, we are seeing water only available on some days and not on others, which makes it difficult to manage hygiene and to concentrate on hot days. It also badly affects our school feeding schemes because without clean water we cannot get a nutritious meal. We demand that you please fulfill all the past promises to remove plain pit toilets in all our schools and make sure that the new water and sanitation facilities that we are given are good quality, well maintained and protected from things like vandalism. 


The roofs in many of our classrooms leak when it rains. This disrupts teaching and learning, especially during the rainy season and damages school furniture that is already not enough. The leaking roofs sometimes result in classes being suspended.

Our schools also do not have stocked science laboratories, computer centres or libraries. Even though having a good understanding and excelling in subjects like Natural Science, Technology, Chemistry and Languages is dependent on these facilities. One of the best methods to learn and to develop critical thinking skills is by doing things practically, we are not given the opportunity to do so as a result of not having these facilities or having rooms that are named libraries or labs but that do not have books or equipment. We demand that our classrooms get better roofs that do not result in teaching and learning being dependent on the weather. We also demand that you provide our schools with stocked libraries, computer centres and labs in accordance with the school infrastructure law.  

Overcrowding and Teacher Shortages

Our schools are getting more and more learners because of schools closing or merging and more learners moving to Ga-Mashashane. Some of our classes have up to 70 learners. We know that the school infrastructure law says that the maximum teacher-to-learner ratio should be one teacher for forty learners. As the number of learners in our schools grows, we realise that we do not have enough teachers, tables and chairs, toilets and classrooms to keep an encouraging learning environment. 

Between the years 2012 and 2021, there has been a 4% increase in learner enrolment at public schools in Limpopo, while the number of teachers decreased by 2%. On 30 March 2023 Limpopo’s previous MEC for education said in her budget speech “the department is continuing to fill the vacancies at Operational, Middle, and Senior Management levels”. Meanwhile, schools such as Mmatshipi Senior Secondary in Ga-Mashashane have subjects that do not have teachers allocated to them which forces some of us to choose subject streams that we are not passionate about. This sometimes results in poor performance or in worse cases failing and repeating a grade. This limits our educational opportunities and does not allow us to have the right to choose. We are black learners who live in a rural part of South Africa, we are constantly reminded that we do not have the right to choose or have access to a proper school environment, we cannot accept this from the incoming government of our country and our province. We demand that it ensures that we have enough qualified teachers for different subject streams who can teach us in our home languages, classrooms, classroom furniture and toilets that can accommodate the growing number of learners and qualified teachers to provide quality education to learners. 

School Safety

A number of us are scared to go to school because we are experiencing more cases of learners bringing weapons like knives to school, leading to fights in school and between different schools. There are particular groups of learners in our schools that are responsible for this and our teachers are tasked with putting themselves in danger to stop these fights and violent incidents. It is especially difficult for them as we do not have enough teachers and the ones that we do have are not well trained or do not have the capacity to adequately deal with these incidents. Many of our fellow learners are targeted by these groups, are afraid to come to school and are frequently absent. We also do not have sporting facilities and even when there is a sports ground, we do not even have a single ball to play the sports with. We believe that playing team sports might help our fellow learners to avoid fights and be protected from this form of peer pressure. 

We demand that our schools are provided with enough sports facilities and equipment; that you support our schools in forming functional safety committees with well-trained teachers; assist our schools in creating school-based support teams that include teachers who are trained to provide initial psychosocial support, and can help facilitate access to professional psychosocial support services for the learners that are causing these violent incidents and for the members of the school community that are affected by it; and improve the knowledge and internal capacity of schools on national and provincial school safety interventions such as the National School Safety Framework (NSSF).

Textbook crisis

In a country like ours where many learners are unable to read and write, it is very concerning to see there is a textbook crisis that makes this problem worse.  We are still forced to share textbooks in secondary schools in Ga-Mashashane such as Botsikana, Mmatshipi, and Seipone because there is a shortage of up-to-date textbooks delivered to the school .

The textbook issue has been going on in the province since 2012. How can our government expect this country to get more learners reading if it is failing to ensure that each learner has the most basic learning material, a textbook? If the LDoE can provide adequate reading and study material in schools there can be an improvement in learning outcomes in the province. We demand that you take into consideration the growing number of learners in the province every year and deliver enough textbooks to our schools. 


There is a tendency from the department to not prioritise fixing the school environments of learners in the rural parts of the country. Over the years, we have marched, picketed, shared our demands on social media, and written postcards about the state of our schools, particularly the state of water and sanitation in Limpopo schools. We have also heard many promises being told about our schools being provided with relief. On 10 May, Equalisers from the Western Cape took to the streets to speak about most of the demands that we are writing to you about today, the previous government has still not responded to these demands. On 25 May, we joined other Equalisers across the five provinces that EE organises in to go through political party manifestos and look at some of the promises that had been made about basic education. Some of our demands were mentioned in some manifestos but we know that many times what is promised is not what is actually done.

We, Equalisers from Ga-Mashashane in Limpopo are therefore repeating the call for this new government to be honest, accountable and transparent in meeting our demands. We ask that you, the new government will at least prioritise the needs of learners from the rural parts of this country, listen to us as we are at the forefront of experiencing these challenges and respond by acting not by talking. #YouthPowerBeyondTheBallot