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Education Minister Angie Motshekga to Comment on Legal Action against her Department

Tomorrow, 14 June 2012, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, will hold a press briefing at 13h00 at Sol Plaatje House, Pretoria. Minister Motshekga is expected to discuss the Annual National Assessments (ANA) 2012, the National Maths and Science Strategy and the Section 100 (1) intervention in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo. She will also apparently address the numerous court cases that have been brought against her Department, including the norms and standards case brought by Equal Education (EE).

EE welcomes that Minister Motshekga has initiated the opportunity to address pressing education issues. The press briefing will offer the media an important opportunity to question Minister Motshekga on the numerous legal challenges both her and her department are facing.

In March this year EE, represented by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), launched a court case against Minister Motshekga and the nine provincial MECs for education. This ground breaking case seeks an order that would force Minister Motshekga to fulfil her obligation to prescribe Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. The Minister’s failure to do so has perpetuated the historical inequality that exists in South Africa’s education system. Minister Motshekga has filed her intention to oppose the court case in the Bhisho High Court. EE has granted the Minister two extensions for the filing of her responding affidavit and hopes to receive it soon.

EE’s court case forms part of a broader two year campaign to improve school infrastructure. The decision to institute legal action was taken reluctantly after exhausting other democratic means. Tens of thousands of people across the country have joined EE’s campaign. Learners, staff in schools, parents and communities have petitioned, picketed, fasted, slept outside Parliament and protested repeatedly. This very broad support base has driven the campaign forward.

The Department has also faced other legal challenges this year. In a successful application brought by SECTION27, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the Department of Basic Education’s failure to provide Limpopo learners with textbooks for the start of the 2012 school year was a violation of their constitutional right to a basic education.

In June the LRC filed a High Court application to compel the Department of Basic Education to fully implement the 2012 post provisioning in public schools in the Eastern Cape. The Department’s confirmation that it would not oppose the application is a substantial victory for schools that have been spent up to a year with unfulfilled posts.

There are three questions that Minister Motshekga must be called to answer at the press briefing tomorrow:

  1. Why is the Minister refusing to use her powers, as prescribed in Section 5A of the South African Schools Act, to set binding minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure? How will she be able to hold provinces to account without them?
  2. Why did the Department of Basic Education oppose SECTION27’s application for textbooks to be distributed to Limpopo learners halfway through the academic year?
  3. 395 mud schools still exist in the Eastern Cape. Does the Minister expect to meet her Department’s target of eradicating them by 2014 if the first fifty earmarked schools have yet to be handed over?

For more information please contact Yoliswa Dwane on 072 342 7747 or 021 387 0022/3 or Doron Isaacs on 082 850 2111

Carla GoldsteinEducation Minister Angie Motshekga to Comment on Legal Action against her Department