Since South Africa’s democratic transition, the right to education for all has been a public priority. However, apartheid’s impact on the education system has yet to be addressed sufficiently. Equal Education began in 2008 in Khayelitsha township to support its hardworking teachers and determined students battling for quality education in difficult conditions. Equal Education is a movement of students, parents, teachers and community members working for quality and equality in South African education, through analysis, advocacy and activism. Although Equal Education engages a range of stakeholders, young people are at the center of its operations and goals.
With its second grant from EMpower, Equal Education will develop the leadership skills of 250 students, known as “Equalizers”, and mentor them as they work to make concrete improvements at their own schools and to advocate for implementing educational reform more broadly. Through weekly youth group meetings, young people from 25 underperforming, low-resource high schools will learn the skills to analyze issues, organize their neighborhoods, improve their schools, hold their government accountable and materially improve their communities. Meetings are led by former participants and help members of youth groups learn different aspects of leadership, planning, strategy, campaign design, and implementation.