ANC STATEMENT ON THE 43rd ANNIVERSARY OF COSAS
The African National Congress joins the multitudes in our country to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the birth of the Congress of South African Students, COSAS. The ANC is encouraged by the fact that Cosas remains a strong and militant student organization that is aligned to the ANC and liberation movement in general.
Ever since its formation in 1979, as a revolutionary student formation, Cosas has remained true to its orientation, which is its commitment to fight for the rights of students while at the same time pursuing community struggles. It was because of its appreciation that its struggles are symbiotically linked to the National Democratic Revolution that it coined the understanding that “students are members of the community before they are students”, which reinforced the understanding that schools are a microcosm of society; hence Cosas was never shy to enter the broader battlefield of the war against apartheid colonialism.
Just a year after it was formed, in 1980 Cosas adopted the Freedom Charter and propelled a number of other mass organisations that had not done so to also adopt the Freedom Charter. Because of its rootedness in societal struggles, Cosas gave impetus to industrial strikes, such as consumer boycotts; hence emerged the slogan
‘Student-Worker-Action’ in the 1980s. The reality that the majority of its members were an intricate part of the working class, the landless proletariat, contextualized the natural relationship between worker and student struggles.
Such strategic relationships mobilised civil society behind the struggles that Cosas was waging, and managed to popularise its demands, such as the demand for a free, compulsory and dynamic education in a non-racial and democratic South Africa. The phraseology of this demand encapsulated the dialectic between students’ struggles and the national liberation struggles.
This is the reason why the ANC, even today, when Cosas is celebrating 43 years of its founding, expects Cosas never to shy away from linking its struggles with the national struggles of the day.
Free, compulsory, decolonized and dynamic education should be demanded alongside the demand for an end to economic inequality, grinding poverty and unacceptable unemployment levels. This will reinforce the Cosas that we have always known, which is ‘An education-based Student Organization that is also a politically motivated formation’
Cosas has a pivotal role to play in uprooting gender based violence, that has sadly found refuge at schools as well.
Drugs, crime and violence are ravaging our schools and disrupting normal learning and teaching. The ANC encourages Cosas to continue exposing these ills and work with the government to bring an end to these scourges.
Racism, which stubbornly continues to obstruct our efforts at building a non-racial society, has not spared the environment of learning and teaching. The ANC is encouraged by the actions that Cosas has taken to confront this criminal conduct at the schools where racial incidences are reported from time to time.
No doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic also sharply exposed the high levels of inequality that still bedevil our education system. Students that attend at schools that are located in predominantly poor areas were left stranded when schooling was disrupted by Lockdowns, while their counterparts from private schools, in the main, enjoyed the privileges of continuing to learn virtually because their schools had the tools to support such.
Although the government tried its best to intervene, thousands were still left unable to continue with their studies. Scholar transport, sanitation and school infrastructure remain some of the basic demands that Cosas is focused on. Broader struggles that relate to economic emancipation and the impact of climate change, which have a direct impact on the constituency of Cosas, require that Cosas remains involved in the broader liberation struggles that are aimed at attaining the total transformation of our society.
The ANC stands with Cosas in all these struggles and invites Cosas to continue contributing to the struggles that will lead to the realisation of the national democratic society of our dreams. The ANC is currently busy engaging society around various policy documents towards the Policy Conference and we expect Cosas to contribute to this process.
Once more we wish Cosas a happy 43rd anniversary many more revolutionary years ahead.
Each One Teach One
ISSUED BY THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
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