By Nomali Cele
In keeping with the 40th anniversary of the Soweto uprisings of 1976 and honouring the sacrifices the students made, we, we pay homage to this day’s student activists (#FeesMustFall #RhodesMustFall #EndOutsourcing). However, the struggle doesn’t end there. Here are three more education imbalances that we believe must fall.
Bad Sanitation Must Fall
In 2014, a six-year-old boy from Chebeng village, Limpopo, began school. Sadly, he wouldn’t see a full term or even a month as he fell into a pit toilet at his school on January 20 and drowned.
The saddest part is his school is not the only one where learners have to endure sub-human sanitation conditions to get an education. Bad conditions where learners don’t have access to well-maintained flushing toilets are prevalent in rural areas. Schools in the developing and developed urban areas have their own, equally undignified, issues. For example, in most Gauteng public schools, students have access to flushing toilets but they face overcrowding, inadequate maintenance and cleaning, which makes the toilets health hazards.
With the government struggling to deliver the basic service of proper sanitation at public schools, other basics such as antibacterial soap, toilet paper and sanitary products seem like luxuries.
Long Walks Must Fall
According to a report on the Bertha Foundation blog (Bertha funded two South African education activist organisations: Equal Education and Equal Education Law Centre), over half a million South African learners walk more than an hour to get to school. According to that same report, over two million learners walk between 30 minutes and an hour to get to school. This is particularly prevalent in provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
Walking long distances – often through deserted areas – poses a danger to learners. Unspeakable things happen in broad daylight with people around, worse things happen in isolated areas. All learners deserve to travel safely to their schools and back home.
Unlivable Conditions at Universities Must Fall
It’s no secret that our country’s universities are in high demand. It’s also no secret that while space at universities is scarce, accommodation is even harder to find. Residences are full and students live in humiliating conditions – sometimes, three times the allowed number of people share a space. Institutions such as TUT and Fort Hare have struggled for years in this regard.
Earlier this year students at the University of Cape Town protested as a way to force the university to speed along their housing allocation process. Race, class and economic power were said to play a big role in how the university allocated their accommodation.
When young people go off to university, their focus should be on their studies. They shouldn’t be stressing because they have nowhere to live, sleep or study.
The baton of the youth of 1976 has safely been passed on to the youth of 2016 and struggle should end here.
What education issues do you think must fall?