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

Minister Motshekga, where are our Minimum Norms and Standards?

SAY-I-CAN says that “enough is enough”

Three years ago, in 2008, we were assured by former Minister of Basic Education Naledi Pandor that “These norms and standards [for Basic School Infrastructure] will be fully adopted by the end of 2009.” In a court settlement reached with lobby group Equal Education, current Minister Angie Motshekga agreed to “make and promulgate regulations which prescribe minimum uniform norms and standards for school infrastructure […] on or before 15 may 2013”. Minister Motshekga, how long must we wait for Norms and Standards? Minister Motshekga, how long must the children of South Africa be taught without the basic infrastructure that they need?

SAY-I-CAN (the Southern African Youth Inter-Councils Action Network) refuses to accept the delays in implementing this bill – a bill that would allow us to tackle head-on the fact that 46% of SA schools are using pit-latrines, 93% have no libraries, 90% have no computer centres and 95% have no science labs. It is for this reason that SAY-I-CAN took to the streets across South Africa on June 16 to demand immediate implementation of the Minimum Norms and Standards for Basic School Infrastructure Bill. Two marches were held – a Joburg march, organised and run by SAY-I-CAN member council the Johannesburg Junior Council, as well as a Durban march, organised by the Durban Youth Council, which is also a member of SAY-I-CAN. Both marches attracted hundreds of students who marched in the footsteps of those 176 children who died in 1976 demanding quality and equality in South African education. We cannot forget those who died fighting for decent South African education – we cannot forget their sacrifices for a struggle that has not truly been won. 

In the JJC’s Johannesburg march, five hundred students from across the city marched from Newtown Park to Constitutional Hill. Marching across Nelson Mandela Bridge, we took a moment to wish Tata Madiba the best of luck in his recovery and sang the national anthem. Our placards and our chants demanded “an equal education for an equal nation”, because “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

When the students arrived at the Constitutional Hill courtyard, the JJC had many entertaining performances lined up in the form of a traditional dance, marimba players and gumboot dancing from Masibambane College. We had an enlightening speech from Brad Brockman, the General Secretary of Equal Education, an inspiring poem from a JJC councillor Refilwe Motsoeneng and a JJC councillor Kylie Mohamed led the singing of the national anthem. Addresses were also given by Thomas Ditchfield (the Mayor of the JJC), Lebo Thulare (the Chairperson of the JJC’s Advocacy Committee) and Ruby Chikwiri (the Deputy Chairperson of the committee).

SAY-I-CAN and its councils are for the youth and by the youth in our fight to mobilise the youth of SA and destroy the misconception that our generation is characterised by apathy. 

Minister Motshekga, labelling EE as racist is not an adequate response to the education crisis in our country. Minster Motshekga, we need a real solution to the basic school infrastructure shortage that is crippling our potentially great nation. 

To get involved, you can sign our petition demanding Minimum Norms and Standards for Basic School Infrastructure at https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/SAYICAN_quality_and_equality_in_South_African_education/.