Kate Wilkinson

At 24 Kate Wilkinson heads the media operations of Equal Education (EE), one of the biggest nongovernmental organisations in the country. EE is dedicated to ensuring quality and equality within the South African education system. A BA graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where she founded the Progressive Students Movement, Wilkinson went on to complete an honours degree in International Relations at the University of Cape Town. Looking for part-time work and not wanting to “fall into the waitressing trap”, she became involved with the Right2Know campaign (R2K). “I think it was here that my interest really shifted toward civil society,” she says. After graduating Wilkinson sought an opportunity to make a difference at grassroots level. Towards the end of 2011, and having previously worked as a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders, she applied for a job as a junior fund-raiser with EE. Instead, impressed by her work with R2K and her interest in writing and journalism, they offered her the position of media officer. Under her leadership EE’s media campaigns have played an essential role in preventing the unjust closure of schools and have exposed maladministration throughout the South African education system. The pressure created by the campaigns also contributed to forcing Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga to meet EE’s demands on school infrastructure regulations. Because of EE’s community-driven nature Wilkinson is able to experience, first-hand, the importance of working with organisations and individuals on the ground. More than anything she enjoys the opportunity to facilitate change within the system by working with teachers and students. “It’s incredibly inspiring to work with learners who have dedicated their very young lives to ensuring that not just themselves but all learners who come after them receive a quality education.” — Billy Rivers