Equal Education is Fighting for Access to Education in South Africa

The Canon Collins Trust was extremely disappointed to hear that the South African Ministry of Education has decided to appeal the recent Bhisho High Court decision, which declared that the South African Government’s indefinite delays in implementing the Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure, as campaigned for by our partners, Equal Education, was unconstitutional.

By appealing this decision, the Ministry of Education is further delaying the actual implementation of the Norms and Standards that they agreed to in 2013, and that Equal Education tirelessly campaigned for. The government is going back on its agreement that basic school infrastructure, such as toilets and electricity, is part of the right to education that all South African learners are entitled to.

Many learners in South Africa still do not have access to these basic requirements for learning, which tragically, can prove life-threatening. For example, Michael Komape, a six-year-old schoolboy from Polokwane, died when he fell into dilapidated school pit latrine in his first week of school and drowned, and only this year, five-year-old Lumka Mketwa also drowned in a pit latrine at her school. The Canon Collins Trust has long supported Equal Education, with a grant from Comic Relief, in their campaigning to ensure that learners such as Michael have equal access across South Africa to a safe and sanitary place to learn.

Furthermore, by denying children equal access to education, the South African government is further entrenching discrimination between learners, and as human rights campaigner, Mark Hewood, claims, South African basic education will be doing little better than apartheid to equip South Africa with the skills needed to function as a modern economy and state.

The Ministry of Education’s choice to appeal the Bhisho High Court decision is a further obstacle that Equal Education must now face in order to achieve basic infrastructure for South African learners. Despite our disappointment, the Canon Collins Trust believes in EE’s proven ability to bring about government change through advocacy and the Trust will continue to stand in solidarity with EE in their campaign to #StopTheAppeal. We hope you will support us in defending Equal Education and in spreading the message that every learner in South Africa deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.