Ball is in Motshekga’s court, says Equal Education

2013-05-17 15:13

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Equal Education (EE) is giving Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga another month to promulgate norms and standards for school infrastructure.

“The one-month extension will come into effect only if the minister, within the next two days, signs an addendum to the original settlement agreement, agreeing to a new deadline of June 15,” it said in a statement today.

“Failing this, the minister will be in breach of the original settlement agreement, and EE will renew its application to court.”

On its website, EE said the then education minister Naledi Pandor published detailed draft norms and standards in November 2008 – as is called for by the SA Schools Act – but these were neglected and did not become law.

In June 2010, Motshekga published the national policy for an equitable provision of an enabling school physical teaching and learning environment, but it too was not promulgated.

EE said on its website that the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) filed papers on its behalf, and that of two Eastern Cape schools, in the Bhisho High Court in March 2012.

But just before the case was heard in November, Motshekga entered into an agreement undertaking to publish draft regulations for public comment by January 15 and to promulgate them by May 15.

A 16-page draft was published on January 8, but Motshekga had asked for more time to finalise the regulations.

EE said in its statement that Motshekga had sent it a letter, in which she wrote: “From the comments received, I have discerned that it is undesirable for me to finalise and promulgate the norms and standards in their current form.

“In the main, stakeholders object to the fact that the norms and standards lack substance and certainty, and that there is no clear framework or plan for implementing the norms and standards.”

Basic education spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi said today that the department had not received any information from EE.

“We went on a public participation (campaign for the norms). Comments were made about it and we believe that the comments are valid.”

This meant the department needed time to consider the comments.

“We wrote a formal letter to EE, and they are consulting everyone else (about the extension),” he said.

EE said today that it accepted the “admission” by Motshekga, but was disappointed at the delay.

“EE is planning large marches for June 17. The minister will decide what these marches are about,” it said.

“If she has published good quality norms and standards by June 15, the marches will be a celebration. If she has not, the marches will begin a new phase of EE’s campaign.”

Democratic Alliance MP Annette Lovemore said today that she would ask Parliament’s basic education portfolio committee to request that Motshekga explain why she had taken so long to develop standards.

“The letter requesting an extension is yet another insult to those learners who attend school in unsafe and inappropriate structures, and who do not have access to resources that will allow an optimal education experience,” she said.

“The process of developing standards has been ongoing for five years. The minister has absolutely no excuse other than a lack of will or interest.”

On its website, EE said binding minimum norms and standards would set the basic level of infrastructure every school should have to function properly, and would include toilets, running water, electricity, libraries, safe classrooms, sports fields and perimeter security.

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