Education yellow cards could go red

More than two months after delivering “yellow cards” to President Jacob Zuma and others in government “for failing the people of South Africa on quality basic education and school libraries”, education activists Equal Education are yet to receive any response.

The Cape Town-based NGO delivered 650 yellow cards - containing messages from high school learners—to Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, her deputy Enver Surty and Director General in the department Bobby Soobrayan, among others.

“The yellow cards were about giving learners the chance to voice their concerns to the people that matter, like the minister and the president,” Equal Education spokesperson Karabo Monatisi told Mail & Guardian Education Online.

“We went door to door in Khayelitsha in Cape Town getting learners to sign the cards and most of them mentioned public libraries. But another key theme that came out was the need for safer schools.”

Monatisi said it is disappointing that they have received no feedback or even acknowledgement of the delivery. She suggested Equal Education could well follow this up soon.

“All our actions have been peaceful and yet we get no response.
But you have organisations like Cosas [Congress of South African Students] misbehaving and they get their point across. It makes you wonder whether violent protest is the only way to get the government to listen,” he said.

Equal Education—which launched in 2008 to bring together learners, parents, teachers and community members to work for quality and equality in South African education through analysis and activism—has been spearheading grassroots action to have more public schools equipped with libraries.

Central to its campaign is that only 8% of state schools have adequate libraries.

The organisation organised a mass march in Cape Town on March 21, with more than 10 000 learners coming together to march to Parliament, where they handed a petition with 65 000 signatures to Soobrayan demanding that government provide libraries at every public school in South Africa.

EE has also started a programme to establish libraries at schools, with at least two facilities having been established in the Western Cape already.

“We encourage people to donate books which would be suitable for a high school audience and we use these to set up libraries at schools, but only if the school commits to providing someone to take care of the project,” Monatisi explained.

“So far we have established two such libraries. If Equal Education can do it, why can’t government?”

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