City rally against inequality in schools

Equal Education’s Yoliswa Dwane. Photo by Kate Stegeman.

Mary-Anne Gontsana

30 October 2014

On Friday 31 October around 2,000 Equal Education members and supporters are expected to gather on the Grand Parade for a rally against inequality in the schooling system.

Equal Education is a national movement of students, parents, teachers and community members, campaigning for quality and equality in education system, using research and activism.

The organisation’s head of policy, communications and research, Yoliswa Dwane, said the rally would raise the issue of inequality in schools, as seen by learners themselves.

“In general, there’s still a huge gap between wealthier government schools and poor schools.

“Members of Equal Education from Western Cape schools are bringing their specific grievances. They identified and developed their own campaigns in their schools and together with Equal Education organisers have mobilised other schools to stand in solidarity with them,” said Dwane.

Issues to be highlighted in the rally include risks to learners on the way to and from school, lack of libraries, poor teaching, poor sanitation, lack of access to computer labs, gangsterism and drugs, lack of security guards, the question of corporal punishment, the need for repairs and maintenance of infrastructure such as windows, roofs, doors and furniture. Learners will also demand condoms in schools and adequate sex education.

Equal Education’s measures of inequality include the gap in pass rates between rich and poor schools and the difference in teaching and learning conditions.

Dwane said, “If the majority of poor learners are able to compete on an equal footing with rich learners, and improve their lives, then we can say we are moving closer. Right now it is only the lucky few learners from poor schools, who are able to do this. The majority of poor learners drop out or receive poor school results.”

The rally, under the banner “Fight Educational Inequality”, brings together months of campaigning by learners in schools in Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Nyanga, Strand, the City Bowl and other areas.

Dwane said there was much to be done to build an equal education system. “Learners complain about poor teaching, even though the government says 98 percent of teachers are qualified. School transport remains one of the biggest problems facing rural learners, especially those coming from deep rural schools. In a submission to parliament about this issue, we recommend special focus on the provision of learner transport and specific funds for this, to ensure that all learners can access schooling.

“We need a government, teachers and principals that are accountable and deliver decent education to the poor and working class,” said Dwane.

The march will start at 3pm at Keizersgracht in Cape Town and will move to the provincial legislature, where a memorandum will be handed over to provincial education MEC Debbie Schafer.