Deadline extended for public to comment on controversial education regulations

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A pupil at Zanokhanyo Junior Secondary School in Butterworth, Eastern Cape, which was shut down in July 2019 by parents because of its poor condition.
A pupil at Zanokhanyo Junior Secondary School in Butterworth, Eastern Cape, which was shut down in July 2019 by parents because of its poor condition.
Archive photo: Sababaliwe Dadaboshe

The Basic Education Department has extended the closing date for submissions on amendments to the minimum norms and standards for public school infrastructure to 31 July.

The decision comes after the Equal Education (EE) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) organisations wrote a letter to the department, condemning its proposed changes to the Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure regulations.

Under these new draft amendments, the deadlines for when the government must eradicate pit latrines and provide basic services like water, electricity, and classrooms have been removed. This angered education activists, who are concerned it's a way for the department to avoid implementing these services indefinitely.

The department said the proposed amendments were made after consultations with the minister of finance and provincial education ministers earlier this year.

On Wednesday, EE and EELC, alongside SECTION27, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Legal Resources Centre, Centre for Child Law and the Children’s Institute sent another letter to the department, urging it to extend the closing date for public submissions, initially set for 10 July, on its “drastic proposed changes” to the infrastructure regulations.

On Thursday, the activist groups also protested outside Parliament, slamming the department for failing to publish the document on its website and social media platforms to make the public aware of its proposed changes.

READ | Eight years after Michael Komape's death, we visit Limpopo schools to see if their toilets have improved

Meanwhile, the education department said it has made “great strides” in its efforts to provide appropriate sanitation facilities for schools in the country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa launched The Sanitation Appropriate For Education (SAFE) initiative in 2018, targeting schools where sanitation is inadequate or unsafe.

The department said there are currently 3 407 schools in this programme and sanitation projects at 2 006 of them have progressed to “practical completion” and provided a full set of appropriate toilets at the schools.

The sanitation projects at the remaining schools are scheduled to be completed in 2022/23.

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