“One School, One Library, One Librarian”

Not since the 1980s has South Africa seen a youth movement as focused, politicized, and determined as the current one. Then the struggle for equal education was against a system of enforced inequality in education, today the struggle is centered on reversing the effects of that inequality and rebuilding a once thwarted system. Last year, Equal Education for All focused on raising the standards of basic infrastructure while tackling widespread student and teacher late-coming in Cape Town.

This year the campaign has mushroomed into a nationwide learner-led campaign of civic action focusing on the still vast inequalities in South African education and the fact that only 8% of schools have libraries. Most of these schools are the ones that benefited from the inequitable distribution of education resources under apartheid. The School Libraries Campaign insists that One School, One Library, One Librarian is an attainable goal, and a non-negotiable right.

Through a vast and well-organized network of learner advocates, Equal Education is mobilized to march, pamphlet, and rally all over the country. Learner advocates meet in civic centers and school playgrounds, and compound their networking and mobilization cohesiveness through a serious of leadership camps with partner organizations. But Equal Education’s success in the past with bringing awareness to the shocking state of school infrastructure and endemic late coming last year was not solely because of mass action.

Equal Education works with academics, researchers, lawyers, and politicians to back up their demands with feasible and practical solutions that are affordable within current department of education budgets. The South African government has argued that One Library, One School, One Librarian is not a financially viable option. Equal Education for All has countered this with statistics insisting that the project to provide every South African school with a working library would cost between 1 and 2% of the national education budget. They are prepared to use creative litigation to force the department of education to address their demands.

It is this combination of informed mass civic action that has earned the learner stakeholders of Equal Education the attention of the South African public, parliament, and educational policy makers around the world. The work is ongoing, the project is vital, and marches are organized around the country to garner public and government attention on March 21. In Cape Town the march will end at the houses of parliament, while in Pretoria, despite some mixed messages from the government, the march will culminate at the Union Buildings.

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you had to be there to really experience it. the energy was so electrifying and captivating. never in my entire life had i seen such a number of determined and motivated youth who are eager to have their voices heard. there was great contrast to the march as compared to actions by learners on johannesburg who turned violent in protests agains Jub jub. EE's march yesterday was a clear indication that in a society where marching is too often associated with violence there can still be alternate approaches.

we have learnt as an organisation that with the correct time, resources and mobilisation regardless of polarisation in a nation/community violent marhces can be a thing of the past amongst youth. Yo sizobuya nayo ipolisi.

Well done EE.

Greetings from Nepal!

Congratulations to the team and million thanks for OSI-ESP for allowing me an access to this post.

It is so inspiring for me to feel my virtual presence there in the event though I am totally unfamiliar of the place physically. This is what I am dreaming to make/see happen some day in my country soon.

Hope to learn more!


Indra-ji: Do you know about the Room to Read program in Nepal? I am on my way there now to celebrate the opening of their 10th Anniversary and the opening of their 10,000th library. 2,546 of the new libraries are in Nepali government primary schools. Check out the program at www.roomtoread.org.

Yes, go for it guys, millions of children remain without education due to injustice and unequalities, and none of us is guaranteed taht our childrena nd grandchaildren will not be among them. I am with you!!

Greetings from Azerbaijan!

Congratulations to everybody who were involved to this amasing Project and made it accesible for the world. Youtube works!

Dear friends, thank you for reminding us how powerful we can be when we decide to gather around wellbeing of children. It is time for all of us to start fighting FOR something; we were engaged for such a long time fighting AGAINST so many things.
So daring, respected friends go for it. Hope this kind of involvement will spread around the world. I will sure send OSI Blog on the campaign and EE web address to all my friend and colleagues.
Warmest regards from Serbia

Great job!
This initiative shows the power of solidarity and the key role of education within the social system.
I hope we will learn together from these examples and we will spread this as a good practice.
‘One School, One Library, One Librarian’ should be an objective of each country around the world.

Greetings from Brazil!

Inspiring ideas like this and movements like Equal Education are those that contribute to the promotion of the right to education worldwide. Not far from South Africa, Brazil also faces the challenge of increasing the number of libraries in public schools and having them working properly. So this is what we need: "One School, One Library, One Librarian”. Congratulations!

I salute all the comrades and friends who have workrd tirelessly to make this come true.In solidarity we will never fail.Personnally im so proud because i experienced the whole process of mobilisation and sensitisation.it was very enlightening and an eye opener comparing with the undemocratic situation at home
forward with the struggle for the children comrades.its our mandate to speak on behalf of the voiceless!

I express sincere admiration and support of this campaign. Education is basic human right, it is a basis for realization of all rights at whole. Three sources of education still are irreplaceable: teacher, book and experience. I am sure, that these young men can make their country better because they will have schools, libraries and books. But the most important is they do it themselves, together with their remarkable teachers. Congratulations!

Congratulations!it is heartening to see the efforts of EE being successful in galvanizing the youth behind the objective of equity in education. EE has done well to build on a legacy of protest and activism to highlight the urgency of education reform.It is instructive that at the same time EE remains mindful of the need to build alliances with professionals/experts and, for instance, use litigation as a way to move forward.More power to your efforts!

I totally agree with Abbas.

Congratulations, EE! Reading is ever so important for development, therefore libraries are essential in schools, which is why I commend your effort to run this campaign. Good schools, good teachers will know how to make best use of their libraries to maximize student learning, and isn't that the major role of schools?

We from the Brazilian Campaign for the Right to Education feel pleased of hearing that such an inspiring and massive movement is taking place in SA. Down here we also fight for quality education for all, including decent infra-structure for public schools. We strongly support our brothers and sisters from SA as we believe only through consistent advocacy and activism quality education can be a reality in our countries. Go ahead, friends!

Before i witnessed this massive mobilisation i used to see myself as belonging to an organisation that was the voice of the voiceless. now i realise that those whom we thought were voiceless do have voices. what matters is the space they are given to express themselves as well as the freedom within which they operate. if you come from a state where these then you will indeed think that you represent the voiceless. i have now learnt that i am just an amplifier of those muzzled voices and will do all i can to ensure that the voices of children and youth in Zimbabwe are heard. Thanks EE for showing us the easier and non-violent way to do it.


The EE's One School, One Library, One Librarian project is not only great in its aims but also in how it goes about achieving them. At a point when so much of advocacy work is conducted through experts, often seen as mutually exclusive to the people, the EE has done an amazing job of both mobilizing the people and putting forth an informed debate. I hope that in the end, the project will succeed in achieving One School, One Library, One Librarian and also in reminding us some of the basics of advocacy for just societies.

Greetings from ISSA!

Congratulations for this initiative, which demonstrates that the civil society has the power to change things. Your campaign is an inspiration for us all, both in its message (access to quality education for all) and in the process (change brought about by an empowered civil society).

We express our support to children and their parents in the campaign and wish them to fully accomplish the goal of having all children the access to books. Civil society activism is necessary to achieve education and social justice, and we are thankful for having the opportunity to learn from colleagues from South Africa.
Good luck and best wishes from Croatia.

Our team bring greetings to all people who organized this initiative and raised up the question of equal access to the education. We are happy to see how civil society activism promotes new ideas and we hope that this campaign will give a start to great innovative initiatives of the civil society in education all around the world!

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