'Basic education not possible now'

2012-08-03 10:42
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga (File)

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga (File)

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Johannesburg - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is reportedly contesting the view that "the right to a basic education is immediately realisable" due to what the minister calls “budgetary constraints”.

Motshekga has also backtracked on previous promises to publish norms and standards for school infrastructure, the Mail&Guardian reported on Friday.

The minister’s views are contained in her response to NGO Equal Education’s application to the Eastern Cape High Court to force her to publish norms and standards.

In its court bid, Equal Education argued that "the right to a basic education is immediately realisable and is not subject to progressive realisation in the light of available resources".

But in her response, Motshekga says "budgetary constraints" and "the limitation of available resources" cannot allow for the minimum norms and standards.

"[T]he right guaranteed by section 29(1)(a) of the Constitution is the right to a basic education [and] account has to be taken of socioeconomic realities," Motshekga states.

‘Children need education now’


But constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos told the M&G that the minister’s view was “perplexing”.

He said the Constitutional Court had already distinguished between education and other socioeconomic rights, such as housing and healthcare, by saying that "the right to education is not qualified by available resources and is not subject to progressive realisation".

"Children need to be provided with basic education now. It is not about waiting for money to do this," De Vos said.

In 2010, Motshekga promised that "norms and standards for the physical teaching and learning environment will be set at the national level by the department of basic education".

These would be "effective from [the] 2010-2011 financial year", her June 2010 policy document declared.

But according to her answering affidavit to the Eastern Cape High Court, Motshekga subsequently decided to adopt only "guidelines" after being "persuaded" by provincial education MECs to do so.

Read more on:    equal education  |  angie motshekga  |  education
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