18 May 2014

South Africa: Op-Ed - the Politics of Reading and the Reading of Politics


When the Freedom Charter cried out that "the doors of learning and culture shall be opened" it did so for a reason - because a privileged few had peeped behind those doors and seen the treasures of culture and understood their importance for equality. So how is it that in recent years the doors of learning and culture have been slammed shut for millions of children in South Africa?

On 1 May 2014, on the starting line of the Wally Hayward Marathon in Johannesburg, a young black runner unfolded a sheet of A3 paper on which he had typed in big bold font the words: "Quality Education For All". He then asked another runner to use his cellphone to photograph him holding his makeshift poster. Once that was done, he scrumpled up the poster and left it on the side of the road. When I asked him what that was about, he replied that he was a second year civil engineering student at Wits University and that he understood that he owed his opportunity to be at university to the quality of his education. Such an education, he said, should be available for all.

Five days later...

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