I’ve just received an e-mail from the mailing list of LIASA, the Library and Information Association of South Africa, inviting members to join a 24 hour fast for school libraries, which is being organized by Equal Education (http://www.equaleducation.org.za/). This effort deserves to be more widely known. Here are some details:
Equal Education: 24 Hour Fast for School Libraries
Minimum Norms and Standards for all Schools!
One School, One Library, One Librarian!
WHAT IS THE 24 HOUR FAST FOR SCHOOL LIBRARIES?
Equal Education (EE) calls on everyone to join our Fast for School Libraries from 6:00 pm on Thursday 29 July until 6:00 pm on Friday 30 July to show government that all children deserve a quality education which includes properly stocked libraries, managed by librarians.
WHY IS EQUAL EDUCATION FASTING (NOT EATING) FOR 24 HOURS?
As a result of EE’s consistent campaigning a National Policy recognising the need for a library or library stocks in every school was published by government on 11 June 2010. In addition, School Libraries Guidelines have been drafted, but these must be improved to give schools a clear instruction to establish libraries and must be accompanied by a budget allocation. It is crucial that post for school librarians are established. Most importantly, Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure must be finalised for all schools. All these document will only be implemented when government has a budget, plan and timetable to ensure that all schools in South Africa have libraries with a librarian. The campaign is working but there is a long way to go!
Education is very unequal in South Africa. Only 8% of schools in South Africa have functional libraries. Libraries play a critical role in building literacy by developing a culture of reading. They provide access to much needed information and resources and are safe places to study. This is a matter of freedom, justice and equality. Everyone has the same rights – rich and poor.
EE has written a dozen letters to government, met with key officials, held numerous marches and delivered the largest education petition since democracy in South Africa. Some are hearing us, but others still need to be convinced. The decision to fast was taken by the EE members themselves and has been approved by the Board.
There is a long history of hunger being a tool of struggle. EE members have studied the history of the Suffragettes in the UK, the student protests in Tiananmen Square in China, and the ongoing struggle for the DREAM Act in the Unites States. We will not be starting a hunger strike, but rather we will be fasting for 24 hours.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
o Eat supper before the Fast on 29 July together with others and then fast until 6:00 pm on 30 July.
o Wear the Fast Sticker on 30 July when you wake up to show that you are fasting.
o Write a letter to the editor of your favourite newspaper to explain why you’re fasting for libaries.
o Get at least 4 other people to join the Fast with you & fast in a group. <CUT>