The Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) on behalf of Equal Education (EE) has submitted a commentary on the National Planning Commission’s (NPC) Proposed National Development Plan, Vision for 2030 (the Plan).
EE welcomes that the Plan identifies improving the quality of education as one of the highest priorities in South Africa. It is promising to see that the Plan emphasises the role that education can play in building social cohesion and promoting national unity. Improving the quality of education across the country will be fundamental in eliminating poverty and reducing inequality over the next two decades.
The Plan acknowledges that inadequate school infrastructure continues to plague the education system. It calls for the infrastructure backlogs to be addressed so as to meet the “basic infrastructure and equipment standards set by the National Department of Basic Education”. However, the Plan’s call to address the lack of basic infrastructure appears to be founded on the mistaken belief that binding “basic infrastructure and equipment standards” exist and have been set by the Department. EE recommends that the Plan call for the enactment of binding regulations governing minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure as the first step in addressing the school infrastructure crisis. The Plan should also set its own vision of what facilities should be provided to learners. EE’s recently launched court case against Angie Motshekga has highlighted the Departments failure to set binding norms and standards. Without such norms and standards, any proposal to remedy South Africa’s school infrastructure crisis will fail to prove successful.
The Plan has highlighted the plight of rural schools in South Africa. Rural schools continue to endure the consequences of chronic poverty and a critical shortage of qualified teachers. The difficult working environments often found in rural schools result in teachers leaving these posts and discourage teachers from taking up these posts. The Plan suggests that teacher bursary schemes be “strengthened and expanded” and measures be put in place to ensure “graduates are immediately absorbed into schools”. However, the Plan is silent on how to attract quality teachers to rural schools. EE recommends that an incentive structure should be introduced that sufficiently incentivises teachers to take up and continue to stay in rural teaching posts. These could include increased remuneration and accommodation and travel allowances.
EE values the opportunity to assist the NPC in shaping South Africa’s national planning strategy as it relates to the improvement of basic education. EE believes that if its recommendations are incorporated, the Plan will go a long way towards achieving the 2030 vision of quality education for all.
EE’s submission can be found online.
For more information please contact Lisa Draga (EELC Attorney) on 072 650 0214 or Yoliswa Dwane (EE Head of Policy, Communication and Research) on 072 342 7747