Please note that this statement replaces a statement issued yesterday 18 June 2013 about the Moshesh case. That statement is retracted and this one released in its place.
Yesterday, 50 learners from the Eastern Cape picketed outside Bhisho High Court in solidarity with learners from Moshesh Senior Secondary School.
In May 2012 Zamuxolo Moutlouli a grade 11 learner from Moshesh High School wrote to Equal Education (EE) asking for assistance. He explained the challenges that they faced in their schools and some of the problems were that:
– the principal spent nine months out of school,
– they did not have sufficient number of teachers for all subjects,
– some of the teachers were not coming to school,
– they did not have access to all textbooks,
– the school was underperforming,
– the conditions at the school hostel were appalling.
After failed attempts by Equal Education to get the provincial department to resolve the problems faced by the school, the learners, a parent and Equal Education supported by the equal Education Law Centre filed papers in the Bhisho High Court against the Eastern Cape Department of Education. In her affidavit, Palesa Manyokole (a learner) said,
“When the 2012 academic year began I did not have teachers for some of my subjects. I had teachers only for English, Economics, Business Studies and SeSotho. The school’s only Mathematics teacher he did not teach our class because he is the only Mathematics teacher in the whole school, for all the grade 10, 11 and 12 classes. He sometimes taught us during free periods. I also did not receive any teaching in Accounting for the first six months of the year as the Accounting teacher also arrived in June 2012. Even though we did not have a teacher for Life orientation and Accounting we still wrote tests but I do not know who set those tests.”
The Applicants asked the court to compel the department of education to intervene and provide support to the school. They also asked the court to ensure that statutory obligations that rested with the head of department towards underperforming schools would be implemented. This would address the causes of underperformance and improve the academic performance of the school. In sections 9, 10 and 29, the Constitution guarantees everyone equality, dignity and the right to a basic education. In addition to this section 58B requires the Head of Education to identity underperforming schools and to take all reasonable steps to assist underperforming schools. Prior to the institution of the court matter, Moshesh was underperforming but had not yet been officially declared as such and no measures had been implemented to address the underperformance.
On Thursday 13 June 2013, four days before the scheduled hearing of the matter, Equal Education and the Eastern Cape Department of Education met in East London to discuss progress made to resolving the problems at the school and to chart a way forward. The Department reported that:
- They had investigated financial mismanagement,
- The school principal was currently under suspension,
- A new acting principal had been appointed to turn the school around,
- A new school governing body had been appointed and was being supported by the department,
- They were investigating the adequacy of the educators at the school against the curriculum needs of the school as well as the status of school governing body posts,
- The department had investigated the text book shortages and had undertook to ensuring that the learners had all the identified shortages at the schools,
- They had declared Moshesh SSS as an underperforming school and had instituted measures to address the underperformance.
There were a few outstanding issues that remained to be resolved but the learners and Equal Education noted and welcomed the efforts of the department to work together to ensure that the rights of the learners are fully realised and teaching and learning conditions at the school improve substantially.
As a result these efforts by the department, the learners and equal education resolved by agreement to postpone the hearing of the matter pending resolution of the outstanding questions which would lead to finalisation of matter.
This case was about rural learners who find themselves in difficult circumstances but who take their education seriously and have the agency to hold their school, the education district and the provincial department accountable for the quality of education they receive and for the underperformance of their school.
It is important to not confuse this case with EE’s Norms and Standards case. This is a case about a single school in Matatiele. The target of this case is not Minister Motshekga. She is cited merely because of the Section 100 intervention in the Eastern Cape. The target of this case are those directly responsible for the school.
For more information contact:
- Yoliswa Dwane (072 342 7747)
Equal Education Chairperson
- Precillar Moyo (021 461 1421)
Equal Education Law Centre