|2012 07 10 Pupils should be politically aware — education group|
SOUTH AFRICAN school pupils should use their political power in order to enforce the delivery of quality basic education, as political structures were not up to the task, delegates at rights organisation Equal Education's national congress heard yesterday.
Equal Education was among one of a number of rights groups to have taken the Department of Basic Education to court over the constitutional right to education delivery. The congress yesterday followed weeks of scrutiny at a seven-month delay in textbook deliveries in Limpopo.
Increased pressure on the government from civil society has seen Equal Education go to court seeking minimum norms and standards for schools infrastructure, while public interest law centre Section27 has sought the delivery of textbooks in Limpopo.
Meanwhile, the Legal Resources Centre had also sought the implementation of teacher post-provisioning norms in the Eastern Cape.
Equal Education's first national congress, which ends tomorrow, aims to turn the organisation into a mass-based democratic movement. Equal Education youth group head Lwando Mzandisi said yesterday the recent acknowledgement from Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi that the union federation had been remiss in not addressing the nondelivery of textbooks in Limpopo early, had missed the point.
Mr Vavi had said in his opening address to the congress on Sunday that the recent Limpopo textbook "fiasco" showed what could happen when leaders "defocused" from the challenges that ordinary people faced daily, saying there was a "social distance" between ordinary people facing challenges and leadership.
He also acknowledged weaknesses had emerged in progressive civil society organs and Cosatu itself in the past 18 years. He said the union federation should have been first to know that textbooks had not been delivered in Limpopo.
Mr Mzandisi said that the school pupils at affected schools should have been politically aware enough to highlight the issue, and know how to access political structures in order to effect change.
Pupils at schools that needed services to be delivered needed to understand "how politics works" which would enable them to reject the perception that local political structures are "for the old people" or opportunities to get rich, Mr Mzandisi said.
Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola, general secretary of the Treatment Action Plan, told delegates that the definition of what constituted SA's youth — those aged 15 to 35 — was preventing the concerns of pupils in basic education being articulated effectively. This politically accepted definition needed to be changed, ideally with two groups, those aged 15 to 25, and those aged 25 to 35, she said.
This point had been driven home by the recent focus of the African National Congress Youth League under Julius Malema, which had called for economic transformation and jobs, she said. "You don't see Malema out there crying textbooks, or out there crying libraries, it's not his issue."