Education International
Education International

South Africa: SADTU unites with civil society for quality education

published 24 June 2011 updated 6 July 2011

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) is taking up the Council of Global Unions’ Quality Public Services – Action Now! campaign by joining the civil society organisation, Equal Education, to hold a People's Summit for Quality Education.

The EI affiliate and its members will be taking part in the People’s Summit for Quality Education in Cape Town from 25-27 June. This is set to be a landmark event in building a national movement for quality and equal education and will develop 400 parent, teacher, union, NGO, and student delegates as education activists and empower them with practical plans to improve their own schools, sharing powerful analysis and inspiring successes.

The summit will be addressed by South Africa’s Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, who will be speaking on the opening night.

The summit is being convened because across South Africa there are countless learners, parents and teachers who do extraordinary work in poor conditions every single day, and the stakeholders have decided that they must join together and work for quality education for all.

In an unequal country, a few are lucky enough to know schools that achieve among the best in the world; many know schools that suffer with the worst. The activists recognise the country is worse for all if poor education persists, while all stand to benefit from quality education that frees the potential of each person.

In gathering at the summit, the people are take responsibility for attitudes and actions at schools in communities around the country– and to work together for quality and equal education.

The summit will focus on schools in communities: challenges to quality education that everyone can help to overcome. The summit will deal with the socio-economic context of schooling: still a fundamental determinant of the overall pattern of educational outcomes in South Africa. It will engage with parents’, teachers’, and community members’ involvement in schools. It will address resource and infrastructure challenges. It will take up issues of learning, as well as the teaching and leadership needed for learning. And all this will be framed by the links between school and post-school opportunities.

The People’s Summit Organiser, Jon Hodgson, said: Every generation has its struggle.Ours is the struggle for quality education. Studies of South African performance on international tests show educational achievement in South Africa is worse than in almost all other countries in the region. A fundamental conclusion of this research is that schools are inefficient in turning education inputs into outputs – still a legacy of apartheid.

“Our struggle is simultaneously for equal education. In last year’s matric exams, at the school heralded as ‘the top state school’ in the country, 165 matrics achieved 404 A symbols. But in the Khayelitsha township, just 30 kilometers away, 3,228 matrics across 19 high schools achieved just 44 A symbols between them.

On World Human Rights Day, 20,000 students, teachers and allies marched to the South African parliament for quality education for all. In 2010, more than 12,000 people participated in Human Rights Day marches across the country; more than 5,000 fasted during the ‘Fast for School Libraries’; more than 7,000 sent postcards to political leaders calling for libraries and resources in schools; and more than 60,000 signed the petition calling for ‘One School, One Library, One Librarian’.

EI’s World Congress will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 18-26 July 2011.

The Council of Global Unions’ Quality Public Services – Action Now! Campaign activity package can be found in a large variety of languages here.

The circular announcing the campaign is also available in Arabic.