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Equal Education to Picket Parliament for Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure

On Tuesday, 21 February, at 15h30 Equal Education (EE) will picket Parliament regarding the need to gazette Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. A memorandum of demands will be handed over to a representative of the National Treasury. The picket falls the day before Finance Minister Pravin Gordahn’s 2012 Budget Speech. There will also be a puppet show that will demonstrate the importance of norms and standards and the history of EE’s campaign.

For more than two years EE has been campaigning for National Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure to be prescribed by the Minister of Basic Education. Section 5A of the South African Schools Act states that the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, may prescribe minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure. However, Minister Motshekga has failed to prescribe these regulations after promising to do so by the end of March 2011. Prescribing these regulations would ensure that learners have adequate learning conditions. Furthermore, norms and standards are required so that the progress of the provincial department’s infrastructure plans and delivery can be monitored. Without Norms and Standards the Minister cannot direct school infrastructure expenditure by the Education MECs.

EE is also concerned about misspending by both national and provincial education departments. The Progress Report by the Department of Education to the Appropriations Committee showed that the total school infrastructure expenditure at the end of December 2011 was R5, 905, 928 billion or 64% of the adjusted budget of R9, 120, 487 billion.  The Eastern Cape Education Department spent only 28% of its budget compared to the expected outcome of 75% at the end of the third quarter. North West and the Northern Cape also reported very low levels of spending at 51% and 56% respectively.  Limpopo and Mpumalanga spent above the expected level at 88% and 84% respectively. Both overspending and under spending of infrastructure grants are of serious concern.  Without regulations pertaining to minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure departments cannot be held accountable for their expenditure.

In August 2011 the Auditor-General compiled a Report on Infrastructure Delivery in the Provincial Departments of Education (http://tinyurl.com/6qalboq).  The report found that “the needs determination, planning and prioritising for infrastructure projects were not completed on time” due to lack of staff capacity and mismanagement. The report recommended that “national norms and standards for [school] infrastructure should be compiled and adherence to it should be promoted”.

We therefore call on the Minister of Finance to remedy this situation. We demand that he provide oversight to provinces in order to improve spending; as well as, making provisions in the budget for school infrastructure. The Minister of Basic Education must also be held accountable for the non-expenditure of R700 million that was allocated for school infrastructure. The lack of capacity and mismanagement that was identified in the Auditor-General’s report must be resolved and those officials found guilty of corruption must be fired and have criminal charges brought against them.

Members of the media are invited to join us outside Parliament at 15h30.

For information please contact Yoliswa Dwane/072 342 7747 or 021 387 0022/3

Brad Brockman/ 072 267 8489

Carla GoldsteinEqual Education to Picket Parliament for Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure