Equal Education has been championing the right of all young people to access quality education for over ten years. EE is a member-based mass democratic movement of learners, post-school youth, parents and community members striving for quality and equality in South African education, through activism and analysis. We have campaigned and secured improvements to countless specific schools across South Africa.
In our recent Twitter Chat on the inclusivity of e-learning in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, Equal Education general secratary Noncedo Mdubedube, noted that South Africa around two decades into developing an ICT approach to education but still deeply challenges by resource mobilisation, professional development and teacher training, digital content development and efficient policies for ICT usage and child protection.
Teaching in South African townships:
Our nation’s successful struggle for freedom and democracy is one of the most dramatic stories of our time. While this is a story worth celebrating, we cannot deny the effects of the apartheid system that are still felt 26 years into our supposed new dawn. As a final year Education student with UNISA, I have, on a number of occasions, been prescribed time to practice as a student teacher. Of course this brings me great pleasure as I get to experience the realities of being a part of our Education System but it has also exposed me to parts and challenges of it that I had hoped would only be as intense.
I had strategically chosen to practise at previously (read currently) disadvantaged
schools to get the actualities, but also because the schools are in a township that I reside and house people that I am neighbours with. Compared to the rest of the continent, South Africa allocates the largest amount of its GDP to education, but despite this we still linger at the bottom of the list of quality schooling. There are many contributions to this including the pressure that the system is under, learner-related, teacher-related, and administrative and policy related issues and how the profession is highly unionized. Over time, the curriculum has drastically improved, it is the implementation that is questionable and the biggest reason being that educators just do not have the time to translate what is on paper to real time. Adding to the strain that comes with being an educator in our country, teachers have to deal with overcrowded classrooms and a teacher-learner ratio that just does not seem to work – I have witnessed this.
Beyond infrastructure, other barriers that children face to access a quality education include lack of sufficient transport, which often impacts on not just their ability to access education but also can put their safety at increased risk. In addition, we cannot be oblivious and ignore the detrimental impact that our drug filled communities have on the lives of the learners and their learning. Again, this
was highlighted to me during my time as a student teacher. Unfortunately, a person’s place of residence, colour of their skin and depth of their pocket will always suggest the quality of education they will receive. A functional one for the wealthy and the exact opposite for the poor, who are mainly black. We cannot deny the efforts of our government but it will take a considerate amount of time to undo the terrible effects that the Apartheid policy had and still has on the education system. - Linda Lindani
Building schools in the township in post-apartheid South Africa.
Sarah Madingwana Mohlometsi and her partner Kwandile Sikosana turned a garage space into a higher education institution, allowing township-based youth the opportunity to gain access to short courses and skills training. Last year, Rudo Institute delivered their Business Dvelopment Course (NQF Level Four with 149 credits accredited with ServicesSETA) in partnership with the StartUp Academy.
What is Rudo Institute?
It's a technical and vocational training institute based in Daveyton township in Ekurhuleni. Our aim is to capacitate young, township-based South Africans with development programmes and with the help of our partners, we provide new venture creation. We believe that institutions of higher learning need to be innovative. Higher education isn't only inaccessible for township youth because it's expensive, but it's also physically inaccessible because it's far. We wanted to bridge that gap.
What are some of the challenges facing the education system today?
We've found that some teachers have a very poor work ethic. We've interacted with teachers both at a primary and high school level and we've found that teachers are generally apathetic. Also. there's a lack of parental support and support from the community. I don't think parents are involved and invested enough in the education of their children, or create a conducive environment in the home to encourage learning.
Education and Covid-19:
I think the outbreak exposed so many of the cracks and inequalities of the education system. So many public schools are in NO position to welcome back learners because they're cramped, they have dilapidated infrastructure and poor or no water and sanitation. Schools have been lacking basic resources like textbooks and labs for so long, how will government ensure the delivery of PPE on time? - Sarah Madingwana Mohlometsi
The role of the youth in different epochs
As we commemorate June 16 1976 Student Uprising in the townships to rebel against the impossession of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in Schools, we must also look Back the role young people have played in the different political epochs of the liberation. It was young people who stood up and formed the ANC Youth League in 1944 and which ultimately led to them forcing the ANC form Umkhonto We-Sizwe and embark on an armed struggle.
It was the youth again that rose up in the 60’s to fight the pass laws of a racist government that led to the Sharpeville Massacre and also Langa in Cape Town.
It is also the youth that rose up in the early 70’s through the Black Consciousness Movement led by Bantu Stephen Biko to speak on Black people liberating themselves mentally. It was this Black Consciousnesses Ideology that shaped the thinking of many students and leaders that ultimately led to the Soweto uprisings. Those Soweto uprisings spread across the country.
The youth once again rose to the occasion through the Young Lions in the 1980’s when President General Oliver Reginald Tambo gave umkhomba ndlela (instruction) that made the country & townships ungovernable. It is the young that led that struggle of various bombings across the country.
It is the YOUTH of 2011 at Gallagher Estate Convention Centre that rose up and called for the ‘Seven Cardinal Pillars.’ This Generation of Young People post liberation is calling for economic freedom. The nationalization of the mines, land expropriation without compensation & banks to be owned by the state.
These young people, some of them still pursue that struggle in the EFF and some remained in the ANC.
It was students again who radically in 2015 pushed for a Fee Free Decolonized Higher Education which is a struggle That began when SASCO was formed in September 1991. Various generations of student leaders participated in that struggle such as the founding President of SASCO Robinson Ramaite. The EFF Student Command also played a pivotal role in this regard in 2015.
However South Africa now finds itself with an economy that is tanking, an economy that is in the hands of the white minority only. The majority out in the cold, segregated economically, poor, impoverished and unemployed. It is the YOUTH that must now once again stand up and radically change the economic landscape of this this country to represent all of our demographics.
The question is, are there young people post liberation who take this struggle or have they been consumed by the funders of their parties to join the political elites, care-taking an economy that’s only in the hands of the minority? Are there young leaders who are ready to see this struggle through?
Let’s remember our current struggles as we commemorate Youth Day. - Samkele Maseko, Journalist and Reporter at the SABC.
Fees Must Fall
Link: Shutting Down The Rainbow Nation. - Africa Is A Country
Youth Lab is a youth policy think tank that works to improve youth capacity and mainstream youth participation in community building and policy making. Our goal is to find young peopl where they are, and work together so that youth voices can be amplified and youth work can be supported.
Youth Lab is a registered non-profit company (NPC), with 100% of the ownership being young, black women
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