DATE: April 25, 2019

CONTACT: Lerato Balendran, GCE Communications Officer, [email protected];


JOHANNESBURG: A successful launch of the Global Action Week for Education (#GAWE2019) and a high-level debate on the Right to Education took place yesterday at the Sunnyside Park hotel in Johannesburg. The event raised awareness on the Global Action Week theme, “Making the right to an inclusive, equitable, quality, free public education a reality” and showcased the coordinated actions planned across the world.

Hosted by dynamic social activist Hlubi Mboya Arnold, a keynote address was delivered by Minister of Basic Education Ms Motshekga who called for a unified partnership and renewed commitment to better education in South Africa.

“Basic education in South Africa is at a critical point and demands all stakeholders to roll up their sleeves and ensure that all children are in school and assessing quality education. Our constitution enshrines basic education as a human basic right and the State must ensure this Right is available and accessible to everyone”.

In closing MP, Minister of Basic Education said “As a country we are saying that as much as we pat ourselves on the progress we’ve made we also accept there is more work to be done. We need to work together to grow South Africa, and prioritise education as priority number one.”

The highlight of the event was the short address from the children from Saxonwold primary school and Horizon View Primary when they expressed in their own words “What does the right to education means for me?” this is what they children and future leaders of our country had to say.

“Education is important for us if we want to be successful in our lives. Through good education we learn to remove the bad habits, poverty and discrimination. Without education there is no difference between human beings and animals. Every person, young and old deserves the right of getting a proper education.”

The children acknowledged the key role their teachers play in their lives. “Every day we learn from our teachers. They teach us about the planets, history and about animals. Our teachers do their best to teach us everything that can help us in the future.”

They also mentioned the challenges to the right to education in South Africa. “Education is supposed to be for all but does not favor the poor. [..] It should not be a privilege to access quality education.” The children addressed direct demands to the government:

“I challenge the government to these 3 hashtags:




Worldwide 2019 is a critical year to ensure the timely delivery of free quality education for all by 2030. This year, the pressure is heightened. Children starting school in 2019 will complete their 12 years basic education by 2030, a global deadline set aside to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). High level panelists and guests had this to say:

Mugwena Maluleke GCE Vice Chair, Vice-President, Africa for Education International and General Secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers Union, (SADTU), “Education is not a commodity. It is a right. So, let’s support our children and our stakeholders to work together. We need to call for action at all levels. Education is key to form tomorrow’s citizens, it is an enabler to all rights.”

Education activist, Professor Mary Metcalfe, “We have to mobilise communities, resources, join hands and collaborate so you have all focus on what has to be done. We also need to deal with the degradation of environment. It’s about our survival. In terms of what we want from education, what matters is that people have an education that allows them to have a deep sense of belonging to society. It should be a right of every learner. We need action based on sound policy ideas- not just words.”

Fati N’zi Hassane, Head, Skills and Employment for Youth Programme, African Union Development Agency “We need an African solution to African problems. Education must be inclusive for all children. GAWE offers an opportunity for us to come together and tackle the education challenges we face, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where the quality of education systems concerns all actors in the field of education!”

“For France education is an absolute priority, including training teachers. It all starts with teachers and teaching especially the girl child. We have a big priority on gender equality and so important to invest in girls’ education” Dr Véronique Briquet-Laugier, Counselor, Head of cooperation of the French Embassy,Director of the French Institute in South Africa

Other guests included, feminist comrade and female empowerment mentor Lutfiyya Dean, founder of @360therevolution a network that empower youth, women and protects cultural heritage.

From the African region:

Social activist Isabel Da Silva from Mozambique was present to discuss the right to education in emergency context, highlighting the work the MEPT does as part of the Education Cluster in the wake of Cyclone IDAI.

Nesiliwe Nhlabatsi Dlamini, National Coordinator, Swaziland Network Campaign on Education For All (SWANCEFA) delivered a powerful speech on girls education in eSwatini, linked the number of girls dropping out of schools with early pregnancy. SWANCEFA is a national education coalition campaigning for Swazis ‘rights to quality and inclusive education for all’.

Liberty Matsive is a member of The Education Coalition of Zimbabwe (ECOZI), and participated in the panel discussion. ECOZI is an apolitical and non-partisan coalition that unites civil society in the common pursuit of the right to quality, compulsory and free basic education for all, with emphasis on public funded education.

The event closed by those powerful demands delivered by Mr Refaat Sabbah, GCE President, in a video message

“We […] urge governments to make a commitment to the full realization of the right to education.

We urge governments to allocate resources to strengthen public education systems.

We also urge citizens, irrespective of their origins, gender, age, disability, or economic status to demand this RIGHT from their governments.”

This year, the #GAWE2019 focuses on key strategic areas. Namely; Equality and non-discrimination, which speaks to education as a fundamental human right that everyone must claim, irrespective of race, colour, creed or social standing. Additionally, this area addresses the growing support for Public, Private Partnerships (PPPS’s) which undermine commitments made by Governments in support of free, inclusive quality public education. Transformative education calls for education curricula that empowers individuals beyond numeracy and literacy skills. The world today demands assertive citizens that play an active role in shaping the present and future of societies. Education in emergencies is a key topic that can longer be ignored by the international community. From climate change disasters to political conflicts, children, teachers and schools are left to fend for themselves as they are caught in the crossfire. With an estimated 535 million children, nearly one in four, living in countries affected by conflict or disaster, this issue is critical.


Notes to the editor: The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is a civil society movement that aims to end the global education crisis. The movement promotes and defends education as a basic human right. The Global Action Week for Education (GAWE) is a flagship event for the civil society education movement and has been running successfully since 2003.


Leave a Reply