Picture: Equal Education/Twitter
Cape Town -  High school pupils and advocacy group Equal Education (EE) protested outside the offices of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga in Pretoria on Tuesday. 

Among their demands, inadequate infrastructure and violence has been some of the major issues affecting South African schools in recent times.

Some protesters wore masks representing various MECs, Minister Motshekga and President Cyril Ramaphosa. They staged a mock swearing-in for ministers after which a protest leader wearing a Motshekga mask addressed the group.

"I will ensure that in schools, learners are protected from dangerous school infrastructure and violence, are taken to school with safe and reliable transport and are not taught in overcrowded classrooms," the fake Motshekga said.

EE spokesperson Leanne Jansen-Thomas said Motshekga has had 10 years to eradicate dangerous and undignified school infrastructure, curb violence within schools, provide safe and reliable scholar transport and to measurably improve the quality of early grade literacy.

Jansen-Thomas said they also reiterated their call for Motshekga to intervene regarding the embarrassing state of the annual provincial school infrastructure reports, and for her performance contract to be made public.

She said their protest took the form of a swearing-in ceremony for Motshekga and that the group handed over a memorandum of demands to the DBE, "in the form of a performance contract that we have drafted for Motshekga".

Among the demands in the "People’s Performance Contract" were that Motshekga must provide templates to the education MECs for the provincial infrastructure progress reports, so the documents contain accurate information, easily understood by learners, teachers and parents.

Another included that the contract demands Motshekga to Immediately hold accountable KwaZulu-Natal Education Department for its failure to adopt a final provincial scholar transport policy, and ensure that the department is able to do so in 30 days from today.

The fake Ramaphosa then took to the podium and instructed the Motshekga imitator. "You will make sure that learners in the early years of schooling receive the highest quality education, so they can excel in later years and reach their full potential," he said.

The protesters submitted their  memorandum  of demands to the department's chief of staff Paul Setlhabelo, who promised to take their grievances to the office of the minister.

The Governing Body Foundation (GBF) has also expressed shock and sadness at "the criminal acts of  violence and other tragic events that have resulted in the loss of the lives of children and adults in and around schools during the last two weeks".

GBF's Chief Executive Officer Dr Anthea Cereseto extended condolences to the families and school communities traumatised by the incidents.

Cape Argus