Some of you probably heard about Equal Education, a new South African mass movement to campaign for and end to education disparities inherited from Apartheid and neglected by the democratic government, for the first time when The New York Times ran a feature about them in September 2009.

As The Times reported at the time: “… [i]n the Western Cape [the province where Equal Education is the most active] only 2 out of 1,000 sixth graders in predominantly black schools passed a mathematics test at grade level in 2005, compared with almost 2 out of 3 children in schools once reserved for whites that are now integrated, but generally in more affluent neighborhoods.”

Equal Education sets itself “practical goals” to change these realities. Thus far it has gotten the education authorities to replace broken windows in poor black township schools, secured a science teacher for seniors at one school, and agitates for libraries and librarians in schools in these communities. (Only eight percent of public schools have adequate libraries and most of these are in privileged former white schools.). But the larger point is to make democratic citizens out of young South Africans.

Today–to celebrate Human Rights Day–Equal Education expect thousands of people to gather for a protest march and music concert in central Cape Town in support of their demands. Later this week, on Friday, they will march in Pretoria to protest the central government.

In this video, uploaded on Youtube last week, gives a good sense of the group’s struggle.


If you’re in Cape Town today (South Africans celebrate Human Rights Day then) or Pretoria on Friday, go support them. If not, donate to their work with your skills or money.

Further Reading

Our turn to eat

Reflections on Malawi’s recent election rerun, false starts and the hope that public representatives in Africa become accountable to their electorates’ aspirations.

The culture wars are a distraction

When our political parties only have recourse to the realm of identity and culture, it is a smokescreen for their lack of political legitimacy and programmatic content. It is cynically unpolitical, and it’s all bullshit.