Pupils Speak Out: Equal Education office in the Eastern Cape gives us hope

The article you are about to read is part of a weekly series of comment pieces written by SA pupils about the problems they encounter in their schools. The series offers pupils a chance to be part of the debate about South Africa’s education system.

 Last week the Equal Education office in King Williams Town had an official opening event where principals, teachers, community members, pupils and journalists attended. Even the district director attended and gave a speech. I was at this launch and it was exciting to finally see Eastern  Cape schools being a priority for everyone.

I am a pupil at Forbes Grant High School, doing grade 10. I have been an Equaliser (member of Equal Education) since 2013. I was introduced to Equal Education by another member of Equal Education who was a facilitator at EE.

He told us about what EE was aiming to achieve and I immediately found myself very interested. There wasn’t always an office in Eastern Cape but what kept me a member of Equal Education was the idea that I was doing something great and I was going to be helping other pupils get a better education. 

My school, Forbes Grant High School, is historic in that it is Steve Biko’s old school, Steve Biko and Steve Tshwete are some of the people that went to my school, these are heroes of our time who have gone on to make South African history. 

However, today my school is not in a good condition. It has been burnt twice already, first time a few years ago, it got fixed and got burnt again. Our classrooms do not have enough desks, some of our classrooms have broken windows, some of the toilets are in a very bad condition, especially the grade 9 toilets. These are some of the things that making learning difficult sometimes.

When I joined EE we were advocating for norms and standards for school infrastructure. We now have the Norms and Standards and we are now looking forward to them being implemented in our schools. 

This is important because we need our schools to be fixed. We also need the type of infrastructure that will make our learning better, for example it is difficult when we have to do practical tests because the laboratory leaks when it rains, this means we can’t do practical tasks. 

It does feel like Steve Biko and all the things he did are not appreciated because if they did, our school, his school would not be in the condition it is in. However, EE has afforded us an opportunity to understand society and inequality, we can now mobilise and try fix the problems through activism.

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