Urgent hearing of education case

2013-06-11 19:29
Angie Motshekga (Picture: Beeld)

Angie Motshekga (Picture: Beeld)

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Johannesburg - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga's alleged breaching of an agreement on school infrastructure norms and standards, will be heard as a matter of urgency by the Eastern Cape High Court in Bhisho, Equal Education (EE) said on Tuesday.

"Judge Dukada... ruled that the matter is urgent," EE said in a statement.

The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) filed papers on Monday behalf of EE to re-open the case against Motshekga.

EE is accusing her of breaching an agreement to publish binding minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure by 15 May.

However, the department rejected EE's claims.

"This approach is nothing but grandstanding, for reasons only known to the NGO," Motshekga said in a statement.

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 became 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 LRC filed papers on its behalf, and that of two Eastern Cape schools, in the Eastern Cape High Court in March 2012.

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

More time

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

EE said 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."

In May, it said it would give her a month's extension, but only if she signed an addendum to the original settlement agreement agreeing to a new deadline of 15 June, failing which it threatened to renew its court application.

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

Comments

On Tuesday, department spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi said Motshekga had consistently communicated with EE to clarify the processes involved in publishing the norms and standards.

"The law requires the department to consider comments and input from various stakeholders before regulations can be published," said Lesufi.

A compulsory consultation process with the National Economic Development and Labour Council had not been concluded, and the department was waiting for a final report, Lesufi said.

Motshekga would have to consider the report's recommendations once it had been submitted.

Lesufi said the department continued to engage with EE, and would meet it this week.

- SAPA
Read more on:    lrc  |  angie motshekga  |  naledi pandor  |  east london
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