JJC / SAY-I-CAN march for quality and equality in SA education: pre-event release

SAY-I-CAN demands that Motshekga say “I will”

The youth of South Africa add their voices to the campaign for Minimum Norms and Standards

SAY-I-CAN (the Southern African Youth Inter-Councils Action Network), along with its member junior councils, will be holding marches on June 16th in Johannesburg, Durban and PE in support of Equal Education’s campaign for Minimum Norms and Standards.

Angie Motshekga will decide what these marches will be about. Following her failure to honour an agreement of a final deadline of May 15th 2013 for the implementation of Minimum Norms and Standards, Equal Education reluctantly extended this deadline to June 15th. Should the minister miss the deadline and continue to stall implementation, the marches will continue and intensify pressure on government to pass the Bill (which has been delayed since Section 5A was added to the South African Schools Act in 2007, mandating the Department of Basic Education to pass Minimum Norms and Standards). Should the Minister pass the Bill by June 15th, the marches will celebrate an important step towards dealing with the education crisis in South Africa and will pressurise government to act on the promises of the bill – after all, a document that demands Minimum Norms and Standards is useless if these standards are never met in practice.

SAY-I-CAN, and the Southern African youth who the organisation represents, are tired of the buck-passing and denial that the Department of Basic Education have used as a strategy to deal with unequal and poor education delivery in SA. The youth of South Africa refuse to believe Minister Motshekga when she claims that “there is no crisis”, despite the fact that 11 450 South African schools (46%) use pit-latrine toilets, 22 304 schools (90%) have no computer centers, 22 938 schools (93%) have no libraries and 23 562 schools (95%) have no science laboratories (Source: Dept of Basic Education 2011). In light of this, we cannot forget the legacy of the 176 students who died in the Soweto Uprising of 1976 demanding quality and equality in education. We cannot forget their sacrifices for a struggle that has not truly ended.

SAY-I-CAN is an umbrella organisation that unites the Junior Councils of South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is made up of democratically elected Grade 11 students, and acts “for the youth, by the youth” in its fight to represent and serve the interests of high school students.

In its fight to improve basic education, it does not rely solely on government to solve the problem. The Johannesburg Junior Council (JJC) has recently ended a campaign to increase access to sanitary pads for female students, responding to research showing that, beyond the indignity and health concerns which arise, a lack of access to this necessity can lead to female students missing up to 20% of school. As part of this campaign, the organisation collected and donated over 32 000 sanitary pads to Sgodiphola Secondary School, providing 476 girls with a 6-month supply, as well as the possibility of 6 months of uninterrupted education.

To get involved, attend SAY-I-CAN marches (the Johannesburg Junior Council will be organising the Johannesburg march, which will leave from Mary Fitzgerald Square on Sunday June 16th at 10:30am and proceed to the Constitutional Court, the PE Junior Council will be organising the PE march, which will leave from the PE Magistrate’s Court on Sunday June 16th at 11am and proceed to the City Hall, the Durban Youth Council will be organising the Durban march which will leave from King Dinizulu Park at 10 am) and pledge your support to our campaign by signing our online petition on avaaz.org (www.avaaz.org/en/petition/SAYICAN_quality_and_equality_in_South_African_education/) which will be delivered to government representatives at the march.