Asheru

Asheru in Capetown, SA performs for “Equal Education for All” Rally

This was a moving moment, I had the honor of performing alongside HHP in support of several thousand student protesters in Cape Town, South Africa. Organized by Equal Education (EE), a  community member organization that advocates for quality and equality in the South African education system and engages in evidence-based activism for improving all of the nation’s schools.

On this day, they assembled students in Capetown to rally to increase the number of libraries in the nation’s schools. Currently there are only 8% of schools with suitable libraries, so they took to the streets demanding EQUAL EDUCATION FOR ALL!!!  It was amazing to see these students take to the streets, determined to make a political change thru non-violent means.  After this performance, the students grabbed picket signs and marched to Parliament House to make their list of demands felt.  The whole experience was eye-opening and reminiscent of the videos we used to watch on the civil rights movement 40 years ago here in the States.

From the Equal Education website:
Equal Education held a hugely important and completely successful event on Human Rights Day, 21 March 2010. This event represents the full arrival of a major new force in South African civil society. More than 10 000 people gathered on the Grand Parade in Central Cape Town in support of Equal Education’s Campaign for School Libraries and Human Rights Concert.

Those assembled marched on to Parliament where they delivered a Memorandum endorsed by more 50 organisations, petitions signed by 65 000 people, and copies of EE’s research report into school libraries, to the Director-General of Basic Education, Mr. Bobby Soobrayan.

Equal Education is campaigning for every school in South Africa to have a fully functional library. At present, this is only true for 8 percent of public schools. Phathiswa Shushwana, a grade 10 learner at Luhlaza High School and a member of Equal Education, gave a brilliant speech emphasising that education is a basic right and that poor areas are in desperate need of libraries, as learners in these areas don’t have books at home. She added that libraries improve literacy as well as motivate students.

COSATU General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, pledged COSATU’s full support for EE’s campaign, and said that every school ought to have a library, a laboratory and proper infrastructure. He encouraged teachers to support the Campaign and to play a greater role in improving the education system. Similarly, he encouraged students to be disciplined, to arrive on time all the time, and to do their homework. Asked for his thoughts on the march, Vavi said that it took him back to his youth as a leader in the student movement in the 1980s, and that it was exciting to be part of this event.

Simphiwe Dana referred to herself as “a survivor of Bantu Education, not a product of it” and said that her mind survived partly because she had books in her school library. She urged government to restore dignity back to the children of South Africa.

HHP was the main performer of the day. He said that the onus is on learners to take responsibility for their education and future, and that today was a historic day because everyone was pulling together for change.

Yoliswa Dwane of Equal Education, in the final address to the crowd, said: “Today, the majority of children in South Africa are not able to read, write and count adequately, and this is mainly because of poor quality education and unequal access to resources in South African education.” Adding that, “unless, inequalities are addressed in this education system it will not transform our society and it will continue crippling and killing softly those who attend working class schools.”

Notably, Nobel Prize winning author, Wole Soyinka, Prof Njabulo Ndebele, Vuyiseka Dubula, Graeme Bloch and Cheryl Carolus were also in attendance.

For more info, and to find out how to get involved, please visit:  http://www.equaleducation.org.za/