On the 16th of August 2018, Africa Unite and the South African Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), partnered up to host a democracy and good governance inter-high school quiz, with the theme “My South Africa, My Pride”. The quiz was held at the Artscape Theatre and five schools from the townships in and around Cape Town participated: Portlands High School (Mitchell’s Plein), Masibambane Secondary School (Kraaifontein), Heideveld High School (Heideveld), Dr. Nelson Mandela High (Nyanga) and Rosendaal High School (Delft).
The purpose of the quiz was to expand the youth’s knowledge on South Africa’s constitution, governance, historical and current affairs, and to understand the importance of participating in a democratic society. 80 questions were asked within three thematic areas in South Africa: human rights; democracy; and good governance. Three learners from each of the five schools were selected by their peers to represent their school in the inter-high quiz.
The quiz ran successfully, with an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm and involvement from the learners. Not only were 75 learners involved and interactive among themselves, providing an encouraging teamwork mindset, but they were also passionate about engaging with the IEC (whose representatives were at the quiz), by embracing the opportunity to be educated on their rights to vote and how South African democracy works. We were also treated to an array of performances by the talented students, who performed poetry, raps, dances and more.
While we waited for the judges to calculate the final scores for each school, the IEC did a short presentation on how voting in South Africa works. They focused on educating the learners on the voting process; beginning from basics (the age at which you can start the registration process), to informing the learners on how votes are counted and correspond to governmental election.
During this, questions were posed by the learners to the IEC, such as “After how long can non-South Africans acquire the right to vote?” and “where and when one can register to vote?” This presentation by the IEC is anticipated to make a big impact in the traditionally low turnout of youth voters in national elections, especially with the anticipation of elections coming up next year.
Moreover, the learners blew the judges away with their knowledge on South African Politics and the manner in which the IEC operates. After 5 Rounds of 15 questions each and bonus questions to even out the score, the results were: Dr Nelson Mandela in 5th place; Portlands High School in 4th place; Masibambane Secondary School in 3rd place; Rosendale High School in 2nd place; and the victors of the day being Heideveld High School who took home the 1st place cup and had us all in awe of how intelligent the youth really is. The IEC provided trophies for the top 3 schools who participated, and these will be engraved with each school’s name for them to keep.
Efforts like these are an attempt to bridge the gap in their knowledge about their human rights and the mechanisms of democracy, which the national education system largely neglects. With this realization, Africa Unite and the IEC propose that the quiz be an annual event.
Nonetheless, the quiz proved to be a successful event, which the learners seemed to enjoy immensely. By the end of the day, there was an overwhelming positive energy, from everyone involved, with the students expressing their enthusiasm for the next quiz.
Africa Unite would like to thank the IEC for such an initiative and the Artscape for welcoming us into their space. Further, we’d like to thank the matrons and patrons who accompanied the learners, ensuring that they arrived and left safely.
We at Africa Unite are looking forward to next quiz, in 2019.