Basic education minister ‘evading her responsibility' – Equal Education

2019-03-12 22:37
(File, Nompendulo Ngubane, GroundUp)

(File, Nompendulo Ngubane, GroundUp)

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Lobby group Equal Education says Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga is "evading her responsibility to provide school infrastructure that is conducive to quality teaching and learning".

This comes after Motshekga said she was confident that her department would eradicate the remaining 3 898 pit latrines in the country's schools "within the next three years". 

Motshekga said she was talking to some of her government colleagues about the possibility of establishing an education infrastructure unit to deal with poor infrastructure in schools. 

But Equal Education was still not happy and accused the minister of evading her responsibilities.

"It began with a refusal to adopt the Norms and Standards law, then the refusal to fix unconstitutional loopholes [in the Norms and Standards], then a long list of excuses for poor service delivery that relied on those loopholes and then outright stating that her department simply cannot afford to implement the Norms and Standards," said Equal Education. 

In July last 2018, Equal Education scored a major victory against the education department when the Bhisho High Court in the Eastern Cape ruled in its favour, declaring aspects of the school infrastructure law, which allowed the government to indefinitely delay fixing the unsafe and inadequate infrastructure in South African schools, "unconstitutional" and "invalid". 

The organisation called on the minister to amend the Minimum Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure (Norms and Standards) as per the court order and to make school infrastructure documents public.

"It is important for government to continue to strive to be better with each electoral term. This means building a capable state; one that uses existing mechanisms to uphold the law and does not evade the responsibility it has to provide basic services.

"We cannot outsource the work for every time government fails to fulfil its duties, but we can fix and recapacitate weak government departments," Equal Education added.

According to the organisation, Motshekga owes the public the following documents, which are crucial for pupils, teachers, parents and the broader public to monitor school infrastructure delivery:

• the amendment to the Norms and Standards (the judgment ordered Motshekga to rewrite the clause which related to making infrastructure reports public);

• the annual provincial school infrastructure implementation plans and the progress reports (the latest reports were due in 2018);

• a revised plan to fix school toilets in Limpopo (as required by the Polokwane High Court) that includes emergency interim measures to protect pupils from dangerous plain pit latrines;

• SAFE Initiative reports which explain how funding is disbursed and details construction at each school site; and

• the 2019 National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) report.

Read more on:    equal education  |  angie motshekga  |  service delivery  |  education

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