Equal Education Press Statement
For immediate release
11 July 2011
On Tuesday, 12 July at 7pm, one hundred Equal Education members will begin a sleep-in outside Parliament to reiterate our call for the adoption of Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure.
It has been three months since the deadline set out by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, in the National Policy on an Equitable Provision of an Enabling School Physical Teaching and Learning Environment (NPEP), for the adoption of regulations providing for National Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure by the end of the 2011/2012 financial year on 31 March 2011. These Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure are called for in Section 5A of the SA Schools Act. They would provide the first ever legally binding standard for school infrastructure. They would provide the strongest tool for communities to ensure that their school infrastructure is improved.
Our demand for Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure is clear and still stands. On Tuesday, 12 July at 7pm, a hundred Equal Education members will begin a sleep-in outside Parliament to reiterate our call for the adoption of Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. We will repeatedly stage sleep-ins outside Parliament until the Minister finalises these regulations.
This follows years of patient letters, meetings, arguments, pickets and marches. On 21 March 2011, more than 20 000 learners from the Western Cape marched with Equal Education demanding Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. We were disappointed when the Minister of Basic Education did not adopt these Norms and Standards as promised in terms of the NPEP.
According to the National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) 2009, produced by the government, of the 24 460 public ordinary schools:
3 600 have no electricity supply;
2 444 have no water supply, while a further 2 563 have unreliable supply;
Only 7 847 have municipal flush toilets, while 970 still do not have any ablution facilities; and 11 231 still use pit-latrine toilets;
Only 10% of public ordinary schools have stocked computer centres;
Only 5% of public ordinary schools have stocked laboratories;
Only 8% (1 837 schools) of public ordinary schools have functioning libraries; 13% (3 384 schools) have an un-stocked library space, but the vast majority, 79% (19 239 schools), have no physical library space, nor a book collection. Most of the 8% of schools with libraries are schools which charge fees and pay for the libraries themselves.
The Minister of Basic Education has stated that she needs the approval of the provincial MECs of Education in order to adopt these Norms and Standards as regulations. The law appears to be clear. Section 5A of the South African Schools Act provides that the Minister of Basic Education may make a decision after consulting with the MECs. In terms of this section, the Minister does not need the provincial MECs’ permission or agreement.
We believe that the Minister should set the highest standards for public ordinary schools, and MECs should implement the policies and laws and be held accountable when need arises. Communities, learners, parents and activists will be partners for the Minister in ensuring that provinces deliver on the Norms and Standards. The passing of these regulations will be a small step towards providing every child in this country with quality education, and addressing school infrastructure and imbalances in education as part of this obligation.
For more information, please contact:
072 342 7747 or 082 444 6674