This is the second SONA this year. Previously the President reviewed government's progress, and now is the time to look forward with concrete plans.
We have raised a number of concerns with government over the past year and we hope that the President will address them. We will be watching with keen interest hoping that he speaks to the following issues:
1. Implementing the new Norms & Standards for School Infrastructure
Last year in November the new Norms and Standards for school infrastructure were promulgated into law. This law requires that we eradicate mud-schools within three years, and that schools without water, electricity, sanitation and safety receive priority treatment. To meet the many obligations set out in the Norms and Standards, government will need to begin acting in a careful and coordinated, but urgent fashion. Promises about mud schools have been made in SONAs going back to former President Thabo Mbeki in 2004, but for the first time this is now a legal requirement. We are interested to know what are government plans to make sure they comply with this new law within the set time frames.
2. Corruption in Schools
Just before elections the President and Minister Motshekga promised to set up a commission of inquiry into the corrupt allocation of principal posts involving individual SADTU members. We see this as an important and urgent task because it speaks to the very integrity of education and the teaching profession. We think the legitimacy of the collective bargaining process in the profession needs to be safe guarded. It is now overdue that this commission of inquiry, its make up and terms of referenced be announced. The SONA is perfect opportunity to do that.
3. Classroom furniture
We are aware that hundreds of classrooms in the Eastern Cape, KZN and Limpopo are currently without furniture. Some of this furniture is in warehouses collecting dust. What are the plans with regards to making sure this furniture gets delivered to the schools that need it most.
It has been six months since the Employment Tax Incentive Law was introduced. At the time we expressed detailed concerns to Treasury. In particular we explained that monitoring and evaluation of the subsidy would be crucial. What is the progress on this so far? How many new, youth jobs have been created, if any?
5. Lwandle Demolition and Eviction
Just two weeks ago residents of Lwandle, near Strand, Cape Town had their homes demolished; some of those residents were learners who are members of Equal Education. Both national and local government were responsible for mistreating the residents of Lwandle (read our statement). We are pleased that the residents have been permitted to return to the land. We were pleased to hear Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu say that all such evictions, which lack a proper legal basis, and where alternative accommodation is not provided, should be halted, countrywide. We call on the President to reinforce this commitment.
6. Teacher Training and Retention
We raised in our statement before the SONA in February that teacher knowledge and training, and learner retention in schools, were still big problems. We think the President did not adequately address these issues last time, and we urge him to provide leadership and viable solutions to these problems
For more information contact:
Nombulelo Nyathela (EE Spokesperson) 0605034933
Yoliswa Dwane (EE Chairperson) 0767062338