On Friday, April 22, Equal Education (EE) Eastern Cape will hold its regular weekly youth meeting, in which Equalisers—high school members of EE—explore South African current affairs, history, education, and inequality outside the gates of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature. EE seeks solidarity from the Education Portfolio Committee and the Eastern Cape Office of the Premier. We hope that the legislators and the Premier’s office will join us in the struggle to fix the education crisis in the Eastern Cape.
This demonstration is a call for recognition of the complete collapse of the Eastern Cape Department Of Education (ECDOE). From severe textbook and school furniture shortages, to 46 000 learners left stranded without scholar transport, to over half a billion rand for school infrastructure unspent – the department’s track record reveals a complete lack of ability to provide the very basics. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga reached this same conclusion in 2011, when her department took over running of the ECDOE in terms of Section 100 (1)(b) of the Constitution. This has never been formally withdrawn.
EE has been campaigning for many years for decent school infrastructure but learners continue to suffer (see video) and the ECDOE will soon stand in violation of the law. Department officials have openly acknowledged that they will fail to meet the first deadline of 29 November 2016 set out by the Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure regulations. By then, there must be no schools without water, electricity or sanitation, and all schools made from inappropriate structures (i.e mud, asbestos, zinc) must be replaced.
This week’s action follows closely behind an Equal Education march earlier this month (see press statement), when three thousand parents, learners, and teachers marched to the ECDOE to demand a response to the current education crisis in the province.
Despite widespread support for the peaceful march, the ECDOE failed to respond to our demands or even engage with us. The Community Liaison Director promised to secure a meeting with MEC Mandla Makupula the following week, but the meeting was promptly pushed back a month. This interaction epitomises the ECDOE’s disregard for and continuous failure to engage with learners, parents, teachers, principals, and civil society in the Eastern Cape.
We will not stand for broken promises and delays.
We now call on the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature and the Eastern Cape Office of the Premier to demonstrate their commitment to solving the problems in the ECDOE by joining our struggle for better education.
For comment please contact:
Luzuko Sidimba (Co-Head of Equal Education Eastern Cape): 071 924 0956
Sinethemba Ndleleni (Community Leader, Equal Education Eastern Cape): 076 528 1550