This was the view held at a teaching and learning summit hosted by advocacy group Equal Education in Johannesburg at the weekend.The summit ended with a draft education charter, focusing on issues such as curriculum, early childhood development and language in education.The draft will be reviewed at Equal Education meetings with a final charter to be drawn up in September.

Equal Education secretary general Tshepo Motsepe challenged the basic education department to change its approach to formulating policy. It needs to adopt the core principles of this charter and take into account the lived experiences of those who were and are still oppressed.”Our policies must move away from the language of reconciliation because the reality is that people are not equal.”

The draft demands that the education system allows children to uncover their talents and aims for “active and engaged critical patriotic citizens” in education.

“For as long as our society affords opportunities based on the quality of education individuals have received, everyone must be given equal access to the finest education available,” the charter reads.

The draft calls for the state of the education system to undergo regular critical assessments regarding its aims and that the home environment of children be addressed because it “cannot be ignored when dealing with education inequalities”.

SA Democratic Teachers’ Union education head Veronica Hof-meester said it was important for policies to be contextualised.

“We draft policies.and they tend to be ‘one size fits all’,” she said.”Pupils in deep, rural areas are exposed to the same policy as those in suburban areas.”This contributes to the suppression of learning equality,” she added.