Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
25 March 2011

Equal Education needs your help

On Human Rights Day over 20,000 marched with Equal Education.

Now we need your help to make history in the next 10 days!

Will you write to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga?

An Historic March

Three days ago the youth of Cape Town did something truly historic. We organised a march of 20,000 people to demand decent school infrastructure. We want libraries and laboratories in our schools, and we want toilets that flush. We refuse to see children in the Eastern Cape going to school in mud structures, and we insist that rural schools are electrified and connected to water. According to government statistics, 3,600 schools have no electricity, 2,444 have no water supply and 92% do not have stocked libraries.

The march was preceded by a concert featuring DJ Oskido and Freshlyground. The bands played as we gathered, filling the Grand Parade in a sea of school uniforms reflecting the full face of South Africa. EE leader Yoliswa Dwane told the crowd: “We will not rest until we see all schools functioning properly, with proper physical resources distributed to all schools equally!”

Parents, teachers and members of the public marched too. Mugwena Maluleke, the leader of SADTU, the largest teachers union, addressed the crowd, giving his full support. At around 2pm the march began its lengthy route away from the city, before bending back down the hill to Parliament. So enormous was the crowd, that when the front reached Parliament, the back was just leaving the Grand Parade. (See bottom of this mail for links to video and photo albums.)

The discipline and determination of the marchers was magnificent. The mass of over 20,000 youth, in school uniform on a public holiday, marched with militancy and passion, but without one incident of vandalism. It is unfortunate that Dingani Ngobeni, the Minister’s Chief of Staff, had the arrogance to call us “undisciplined”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga chose not to attend. This was an error of judgment. She was a few kilometres across town at the Athlone Stadium Human Rights Day event. Her repeated non-attendance at EE marches means that she is missing opportunities to build alliances with thousands of young allies who want to work with her to fix education. EE reaffirms its commitment to work with the Minister to implement the Infrastructure Standards, once they are passed, and to support her leadership of education in South Africa.

Now let’s win School Infrastructure Norms & Standards for generations to come!

The key demand of the Equal Education youth on the march was National Minimum Norms & Standards for School Infrastructure. This is not just our bright idea. The South African Schools Act itself, in Section 5A, gives the Minister the power to set Infrastructure Standards. Although this provision has been in existence since 2008, the Minister has failed to create Infrastructure Standards. In 2010, because of EE’s campaigning, a National Policy was passed, which said these Infrastructure Standards must be in force by 1 April 2011. That is a commitment made by the Minister and not yet delivered. She now has less than 10 days to fulfil it.

Write to the Minister today!

Equal Education is calling on the people of South Africa to write to Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga today! Let’s flood her with letters. We are asking all teachers to write letters and to organise time in your classes for learners to write these letters. Spread this e-mail appeal far and wide. Tell the Minister about the need for libraries, laboratories, clean and safe toilets, adequate classrooms, sports fields, and staff rooms. Demand Minimum Norms & Standards for School Infrastructure! Send the letters for the Minister to:

E-mail: Ngobeni.D@dbe.gov.za, Mabua.S@dbe.gov.za, Mdontswa.P@dbe.gov.za

Fax: 012 323 5989 and 021 461 4788

Post: Private Bag X603, Pretoria, 0001 and Private Bag X9034, Cape Town, 8000

March with us again on 31 March 2011

On 31 March 2011, the day before the deadline for School Infrastructure Standards, EE is marching to the Union Buildings in Pretoria-Tshwane. Contact Lukhanyo on lukhanyo.mangona@equaleducation.org.za

We need your help. Play your part in making history. 

Together we can build a quality and equal education system, for all in South Africa.

The team at Equal Education

info@equaleducation.org.za

+27 21 387 0022

Video of march: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfEcsMLlgD4

Photo Album 1: http://www.equaleducation.org.za/node/519

Photo Album 2: http://bit.ly/fE5hzz

Press coverage of the march:

Sowetan: http://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/2011/03/22/cry-for-better-education

Cape Times: http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/western-cape/pupils-voice-their-demands-1.1045011\

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/world/africa/22briefs-ART-Southafrica.html?_r=1&src=twrhp

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