Judgment on fixing poor, unsafe school infrastructure is a ‘milestone’ – SAHRC

2018-07-20 19:23


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A "significant milestone" was how the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) described a ruling by the Eastern Cape High Court in Bhisho, which found that it was unconstitutional and invalid for the government to delay fixing poor and unsafe school infrastructure.

The commission said inadequate school facilities had a debilitating impact on pupils and staff and hampered the delivery of proper education.

READ: Govt delay in fixing poor, unsafe school infrastructure 'unconstitutional' - court

"Although the courts have previously upheld that the right includes the provision of proper facilities, [Thursday's] judgment marks a significant milestone by entrenching the constitutional principles of accountability and transparency," SAHRC spokesperson Gail Smith said.

"It confirms that is it not sufficient for the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to merely develop Norms and Standards, but that it must be held accountable for its inability or failure to adequately budget and deliver."

The ruling was made after advocacy group Equal Education (EE) instituted action against the department.

On November 29, 2013, the department set out regulations for Norms and Standards for school infrastructure. In terms of the regulations, a deadline of November 29, 2016 – which had not been met - was set to ensure that no school was without water, electricity or sanitation. EE's request was that the government should commit to meeting its own infrastructure targets.

The commission believed the judgment would help redress past inequalities by making sure all schools were provided with the minimum standard of infrastructure.

"The commission has been continuously engaging with the DBE in relation to the development of its rapid plan of action to address the sanitation crisis in schools and will continue to closely monitor the situation around school infrastructure," said Smith.

The commission added that it would ensure that the department moved expeditiously to realise rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Read more on:    sahrc  |  equal education  |  education

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