Equal Education (EE) is a movement of learners, teachers, community members, researchers and parents who work together to ensure quality and equality in education for all South Africans through activism and analysis. EE functions by drawing attention to problems faced by schools and communities through campaigns, protests and legal action with the help of the Legal Resource Centre (LRC).
This non-governmental organisation, founded in 2008, noticed that despite two decades of democracy in our country, the education received by young people is unequal and hopelessly inadequate. Class- and race-linked inequalities still linger in the education sector, impacting on the dignity and freedom of the youth. EE believes that the rights and equality enshrined in the constitution can empower poor and working class people to have equal opportunities in life.
EE functions to assist and nurture learners, called equalisers, to lead campaigns to improve their schools and communities and model dedication to education to their peers.
EE is opening an office in the Eastern Cape in September 2014, to better service the education needs of the province.
During the first two years of EE, campaigns focused on late-coming and projects to build school libraries and repair broken windows. But 2010 marked EE’s largest and longest campaign: compelling the Department of Education to promulgate Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure, which it did in 2013. The standards ensure that government is accountable for service delivery in respect of water, electricity, internet, working toilets, safe classrooms with a maximum of 40 learners, security, and thereafter libraries, laboratories and sport facilities.
“…It is impossible to learn and to teach when there are 130 learners in a class. We have experienced this. It is impossible to learn and to teach when the roof may fall on your head. We have seen this. It is impossible to learn to love reading when there is no library with books. Most schools face this. It is impossible to concentrate when there is no water to drink all day at school. We have gone through this. It is impossible to respect school when our toilets don’t work and we feel undignified. For all these reasons we demand a final and binding, quality and serious, Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure now! After 20 broken promises we can no longer rely on promises. We need action. Nothing less will do.”
(Excerpt from memorandum handed to government officials at marches).
EE is now driving campaigns for the implementation of the Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. The movement known as The Michael Komape Norms and Standards Implementation Campaign, is an attempt to honour a five-year-old boy who, soon after starting at Mahlodumela Primary School in Limpopo in January 2013, died after falling into a pit toilet. The operation aims to prevent the reoccurrence of such tragedies by pressuring schools and government to implement the minimum norms and standards.
EE’s school libraries campaign, in collaboration with The Bookery, aims to donate books for schools which already have a library, but have limited stock. Libraries assisted by The Bookery will have a minimum of three books per learner, catering for education and enjoyment.
EE is also involved with a number of court cases, with the help of the LRC, which assist individuals, communities and schools regarding education related offences.
EE receives much of its funding from the public, who donate regularly to the project, as well as institutional funders. The My School fundraising programme donates to EE when consumers swipe their cards for purchases at selected retail chains.