Commemmorating thirty years of student struggles since since 16 June 1976

Thursday 15 June 2006 by Dale

PRESS STATEMENT Thursday 15th June 2006



VENUE: Lesedi la Thuto Primary School (Zone 17, Sebokeng) TIME: 10h00 DIRECTIONS: Take the M1 South and exit at the Grasmere toll plaza. Take the Golden Highway (South). Pass Orange Farm, Palm Springs, Evaton West and Boitumelo. At Zone 16 stop sign take left. Travel about 1.5 kms to stop sign. Go through stop sign and then take first right into Zone 17 . Road will bend left past Kwa-Masiza ‘hostel’ and about 1.5 kms up the road on the left you will find the Primary School.

CONTACT: PHINEAS (072 274-6073) or BONGANI (083 319-2474)

The APF demands free and quality education

The APF, as a home of working class struggle, recognises that students form poor communities have been taking up struggles for free and quality education at all levels of the education system. While these struggles cannot be compared to the struggles of 1976 and the 1980s, they are important in sowing the seeds for rebuilding and reviving a combative and confidant student movement at the forefront of societal change. The APF and its community affiliates are part of those struggles - for free/quality education and democratic student representation. Student formations under the banner of the APF demand: • Free, compulsory and quality education at all levels • The employment and training of adequate numbers of teachers • Access to quality libraries and internet facilities for working class students • The provision of textbooks, learning and teaching aids and equipment in schools • An end to age restrictions in schools • Creation of quality jobs for the out-of-school youth • An end to sexual harassment of female students • The provision of anti-retroviral drugs for HIV-positive students and teachers • The provision of free water and electricity in schools and working class communities

Remembering June 16 1976

The year 2006 marks the 30th anniversary of the student uprisings of 1976. The Soweto uprising started on June 16 1976 when students marched through the streets of Soweto demanding the crapping of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in schools. The uprising spread to other parts of the country. Students in places such as Cape Town, Klerksdorp, Bothaville and Port Elizabeth engaged in militant action which challenged apartheid education and apartheid as a political system. The events of 1976 were also important in boosting the moral of all those who were struggling against apartheid and capitalism. It is these events and struggles that produced a cadre that staffed the liberation movement in exile and the trade union and civic movements that were vital in the struggle for democracy.

The struggle for free education continued in the 1980s

The banning of student organisations - SASO and SASM - in 1977 as well as the killing of activists and mass detentions, did not succeed in destroying the spirit of resistance among students for long. In 1980 the Committee of 81, a committee of representatives from schools in the area, led a Western-Cape wide school boycott which also spread to other parts of the country. In the mid-1980s the Congress of SA Students (COSAS) and the Azanian Students Movements (AZASM) led student struggles against the high failure rate in matric, corporal punishment, age restrictions and the shortage of teachers and equipment. Unlike 1976 though, students made a concerted attempt to build alliances with workers and communities. In the 1980s, students saw workers as important agents of socialist change. Students and the youth played an important role in building strong local structures which went a long way in rendering apartheid and capitalism ungovernable.

30 Years on, the ANC Government betrays the traditions of 1976

Today, the contribution of students to the struggle for democracy and the historic people’s struggles of 1976 and the 1980s have been undermined by the austerity measures of the ANC government. The ANC government’s adoption of a neo-liberal economic policy (GEAR) in 1996 has done nothing to improve the situation in education. Since its inception, relative overall spending for education has declined and there has been increased private sector involvement in public education. Instead of raising adequate revenue for increased education expenditure (through for example, raising the taxes on corporate capital) and ensuring that such expenditure redresses the racial and class imbalances in education provision (as highlighted in the School Register of Needs Survey of 2001), government has implemented policies that favour the wealthy and that do not fundamentally address infrastructural and content inequities in education.

As a result, education continues to be in crisis. Government argues that primary and secondary education are free but the reality is that working class parents, may of whom are unemployed, are forced to pay user-fess in schools. The same parents are also compelled to buy uniforms and equipment for their children. There remains a huge shortage of teachers, textbooks as well as classroom and recreational equipment at most schools, especially those in poor communities. There continues to be a high prevalence of HIV-AIDs amongst students and the problem of sexual harassment of female students continues unabated. Meanwhile, higher education is becoming more and more inaccessible to students from working class communities. State funding of higher education as a percentage of GDP decreased from 0,79% in 1998 to 0,7% in 2004.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION/COMMENT CONTACT: Silumko Radebe (APF Organiser) on 072 173-7268

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