Pretoria - The Congress of SA Students (Cosas) celebrated its 43rd year of existence last week, recognising the history and legacy of resistance by students and the masses united in the Struggle.
At the celebration, on May 31, they said the legacy was for the fight against an oppressive regime and the apartheid education system. National Spokesperson Douglas Ngobeni said as members of the community first and students thereafter, they were celebrating the tremendous and heroic journey of a selfless struggle to strive for an education for all that is dynamic, free and compulsory for the betterment of South Africa based on the will of the people.
“On this 43rd anniversary of the Cosas, we are proud to state boldly that when our forebears met in Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre, north of Johannesburg on May 31, 1979, those delegates coming from the length and breadth of the country converged to form the Congress of South African Students armed with a mission to co-ordinate and organise students from secondary and high schools to unite them against a discriminative and apartheid education system.”
Cosas was formed precisely for that reason to play a crucial role in the liberation Struggle by mobilising students towards the aims and objectives of the ANC and rally students behind the Freedom Charter’s The Doors Of Learning and of Culture Shall be Opened!
Ngobeni said Cosas has, over the years, played a pivotal role in normalising relations between students, parents and teachers as an indicator of a strategy different from the vanguardism role of the students in 1976.
They discussed the timeline of Cosas over the years, since its inception, saying that, in 1982, Cosas adopted the theme Student-Worker Action, and promotion of the formation of youth congresses to serve the interests of young workers and unemployed youth.
This facilitated co-operation between school students, young workers and the unemployed youth.
In 1983 Cosas welcomed the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and played a key role in the formation of regional structures in all of the provinces.
It saw the UDF as representing a common platform to fight for a free and democratic South Africa.
By 1985, school boycotts had rendered the schools’ grounds unworkable and ungovernable and mirrored the collapse of the Black Local Authorities in the townships. Their slogan “Liberation now, Education later!” saw chaos in schools across the country and resulted in the National Education Crisis Committee being formed in 1986.
Cosas was banned mid-1985 as the state of emergency was declared by the South African government. By the time of its banning in 1985, it was estimated that the organisation enjoyed the support of almost three million students or more than half the country’s black students. Cosas had scheduled a lecture and dinner to celebrate the milestone for Saturday – postponed to a date to be announced.