Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Walk in Review/Stellenbosch/Ashley Kriel Commoration


Since the Walk for School Libraries things at the office have calmed down quite a bit. The week following the Walk everyone in the office reviewed the successes and challenges of the march and gave recommendations for the next event. After we got into small groups and discussed all the topics, I complied a report from all of the groups. I later included students input about the walk into the report. In these meetings we also set out our 6 month strategic plan to continue the Campaign for School Libraries. We meeting with the MEC for Education, Donald Grant (the guy in charge of education in the Western Cape), in November. This will be a discussion similar to a town hall forum, where we will be bringing our Equalizers to confront the Minister about getting libraries. Then in March of 2010 we will making a presentation to the National Government and President Jacob Zuma demanding a national policy for school libraries. So far we have had success and the WCED (Western Cape Education Department) has promised to delegate 10% of public school funding to libraries or creating libraries.

Apart from the meetings planning for about the next 6 months and reviewing the march, we had a report about this organization called Haki Elimu in Tanzania. The week before the walk 4 Equal Education staff members went to visit Haki Elimu, which is a organization very similar to Equal Education, but it is more established because it is 8 years old. They are really good with using the media and they have nonstop commercials on radio and television (at one point it became too much advertising because they had commercials running once every hour). They all have an extensive list of material that they have published. We are what they want to be at in a few years. So we picked up quite a few pointers from them. However, the thing that we do much better than them is that we have an extremely strong youth movement. Haki Elimu does not have the ground movement that we do. So both organizations had some things to learn from each other. One of the cool things about working at a really young organization is that you see it change right in front of your eyes. Over the last two weeks I have seen Equal Education make some really serious changes and plans for the future.

I have also had the opportunity get going on my Capstone Project for the semester. My project will center around the issue of homework. I am trying to find out where learners do homework and if there sufficient resources for them to do their homework. I will be interviewing 4-5 learners in-depth and giving a larger questionnaire to 200-400 learners. If this research turns out to be successful and I do enough, it would be published and be submitted with the report to the National Government.

Besides EE news, two weekends ago we had a braai where we invited all of our host families to. It was successful and everyone seemed to have a good time. Also this last weekend we went to Stellenbosch for a conference on social research. At the conference, I presented my proposal for my research for my Social Research Methods class. My research's aim is "To discover what racial group is most willing to talk about and discuss Apartheid and race separation history in University of Cape Town classrooms." I presented in front of professors and others who have done a lot of work in the field. Most of them seemed very interested in my topic and liked it. They did have a lot of opinions and suggestions about it, which was good. My topic created a frenzy of discussion and at one point the moderator had to jump in and confront some of those asking questions about there methods of giving advice. The moderator was afraid that people were prescribe instead of giving suggestions, so a disagreement broke out between the moderator and those asking questions. It was a good discussion and there was many a laugh shared.

After the conference we went on a tour of the University of Stellenbosch campus. The university is primarily white and the majority of the classes are taught in Afrikaans. The school also has a troubled history, as the plan for Apartheid was generated in its university walls. The Afrikaner history at the school is rich, but rife with controversy. That night we saw an Afrikaans rapper among a group of Afrikaners which was an experience for the ages. The things that marked his performance were that he was wearing a hat with a brim that was at least 2 ft. long, every thing was in Afrikaans, and his finished every song with "awey (exclamation of excitement)" and "lekker (nice/good)."

The next day we did a wine tasting and went to the beach. It was a pretty relaxed day overall. The last week has been pretty low key, but tonight we all went to this Ashley Kriel Commemoration event. Ashley Kriel was a Colored activist during the later years of Apartheid (1980s) who was assassinated by the Apartheid Government. There were four speakers at the event. There was a Equalizer from Equal Education who gave a talk about the state of Education in South Africa. The next three speakers were from an organization called the Shministim (12th graders in Hebrew). They were 3 twenty year olds from Israel who were conscientious objectors. In Israel there is conscription for men and women after they finish high school. These 3 boys and girls refused to join the military based on their belief that what the Israel military was doing the Palestinians was inhumane. They had all been jailed at least twice and they had faced harsh criticism from the government, friends, and family. It was an extremely interesting talk and it is great to see young people fighting against what they view to be an oppressive system. Whether that system is education or the military there are leaders out there.

That's it for now and I will talk to you soon.

Sala Kakuhle.


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