Equal Education will continue to give support to learners who are claiming their rights to equal education in South African schools. Doron Isaacs, Deputy-General Secretary of Equal Education (EE), said that it was important for the media and South Africans in general to understand that the organisation did more than fight on behalf of learners but that it enabled learners themselves claiming their rights and speaking out about the injustices in schools.
Speaking at the 2013 Think!Fest lecture series, Isaacs referred to a struggle by young people of Moshesh Senior Secondary School in Matatiele, on the Eastern Cape border with KwaZulu-Natal.
The school was under bad management, suffered from teacher absenteeism and shortage of teachers, the principal had been absent for months without taking a formal leave, lack of school infrastructure and shortage of textbooks.
EE was invited by learners to support their struggle for better education.
A group of Cape Town learners who are also members of EE went to visit the school with their facilitator. Isaacs said that these learners went on door-to-door campaign, organised meetings with the residents, went to see the chief in the area and went to see the principal about the state of Moshesh Senior Secondary School.
He said that at the end Palesa Monyokole, a learner at Moshesh took her principal to court for being absent from school without taking formal leave.
“When a 17-year-old takes her principal to court it sends shockwaves throughout the Eastern Cape,” he said. “It sends shockwaves to the patronage,” said Isaacs.
He said that it was disappointing that when this case went to court it was reported as another EE case against the minister in the media although the complainant is Monyokole.
Monyokole has also created a system of monitoring how the school is run. Isaacs said that she keeps a journal where she records how attendants of teachers and whether they came to school drunk or not, how long they stay in class, textbook audits and keeps record of school infrastructure.
So far there has been an improvement at Moshesh School. The principal has been suspended and teachers come to school on time and sober.
He said that this case was testament to the type of accountability that EE installed in schools. “The kind of accountability that we are advocating for is bottom-up,” said Isaacs. “We try to organise on the ground.” He said that the struggle for better education to all was important in South Africa. “The school that you attend affirms you of your social class in society,” said Isaacs.
Click on the following link to listen to his presentation: Doron Isaacs