Equal Education (EE) is embarking on a nation-wide tour following the publication of draft Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. EE will visit KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Gauteng and the Western Cape to hold public hearings on school infrastructure and collect testimonies. The public hearings will allow learners, parents, teachers and community members to comment on the draft and call for quality school infrastructure. The first public hearingwill take place this Saturday, 3 March 2013, in Nquthu, KwaZulu-Natal.
EQUAL EDUCATION’S CAMPAIGN FOR MINIMUM NORMS AND STANDARDS
For the last two years EE has campaigned for Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. These norms and standards would provide binding, national regulations for public school infrastructure. After two years of petitioning, picketing, marching and fasting the decision was taken to take Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to court. The date of the court case was set down for 20 November 2012 in the Bhisho High Court in the Eastern Cape. A week before the court case was set to start Minister Motshekga offered to settle the case. She admitted it was a court case that â€œcould not be morally defended.â€
In the settlement agreement Minister Motshekga agreed to published Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. On 9 January 2013 Minister Motshekga published draft Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure for public comment [http://equalizermagazine.
Minister Motshekga’s 2013 draft Minimum Norms and Standards are disappointing. They are retrogressive when compared to previous drafts. In 2008, the former Minister of Basic Education Naledi Pandor published a 91 page document that described, in great detail, what infrastructure public school should have. The 2008 draft is specific and clear, it set a clear timeline for meeting goals and sets clear numerical goals that create the necessary framework to ensure accountability and effective monitoring. The 2013 Draft is a weak document that offers vague definitions and avoids commitment or timelines. It merely directs the Minister to release guidelines which avoid any mechanism for ensuring accountability and providing proper redress for failing to meet standards.
The Draft states every school must have an enabling teaching and learning environment comprising educational spaces, education support spaces and administration spaces with:
a. Adequate sanitation facilities;
b. Basic water supply;
c. Some form of energy but not necessarily electricity;
d. Some form of connectivity where reasonably practicable; and
e. A sports field that is accessible to people with disabilities.
These very basic standards are not enough. The Draft does not tell us what adequate, basic or reasonably practicable mean. It does not say how many toilets there should be in each school. It is unclear if every school must have electricity or if a battery counts as some form of energy. This 2013 Draft fails schools by not addressing overcrowding in schools, unsafe structures, it does not adequately address school sanitation, and it does not guarantee the provision of computer centres, functioning laboratories, libraries, clean and accessible water, and security in schools.
Minister Motshekga has taken a step backwards with regards to basic school infrastructure provision. Members of the public can make submissions on the draft until 31 March 2013.
EE TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARINGS
As EE, we invite the public to participate in this commentary process and we will be holding public hearing in different provinces: Kwa- Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Gauteng and the Western Cape. The purpose of these hearings is to hear the voices of ordinary citizens, the youth and learners and encourage them to make submissions the Minister.
KZN PUBLIC HEARING
The first public hearing will be this Saturday, 2 March 2013, in Nquthu in KwaZulu-Natal. It will start at 12h00 at the VA Makhoba Community Hall. Learners, teachers, parents and community members from across KwaZulu-Natal will attend the hearing and give testimonies on poor school infrastructure.Out of 5,931 ordinary public schools in KwaZulu-Natal:
1,580 schools have no electricity supply and 410 have an unreliable electricity supply,
629 schools have no water supply and 1,182 have an unreliable water supply,
160 schools have no ablution facilities and 2,834 schools use pit latrines,
5,568 schools (94%) do not have a functioning library and 5,611 schools (95%) do not have functioning computer centres.