1. The release of the 9 provincial plans for implementation of Norms and Standards; and
2. Full and timeous implementation of Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure.
On Friday 29 May EE will be marching to the Eastern Cape Department of Education in Zwelitsha. We are marching because it is outrageous and negligent that 18 months since the Norms & Standards for School Infrastructure became law there are still no plans publicly available. The decision to march during a school day was taken jointly with school principals and we were assured this will not set learners back in their academic work.
The Minister has had six months to review them — longer even than President Zuma has been sitting on the Marikana Report. We demand the immediate release of the plans to implement the norms and standards, the legally-binding vehicle we struggled for to reverse the apartheid legacy of inferior educational facilities in black communities.
Our march will consist of learners, parents, educators and community members from King William's Town, Kieskammahoek, Mdantsane, Butterworth and Grahamstown. The march is to demand the timeous implementation of Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure and the immediate release of all 9 provincial implementation plans.
29 May 2015 marks the halfway point in the first 3 year time-frame under the Norms and Standards regulations. The end of this first 3 year time-frame is 29 November 2016 by which time there must be no schools without water, electricity or sanitation and all schools must be built from appropriate structures. This means mud schools, schools made of asbestos, wood and metal must be eradicated.
We are deeply concerned that the Department of Basic Education, despite our numerous requests and protests, has still not released the implementation plans. The Norms and Standards required these plans to be submitted to the Minister of Basic Education by 29 November 2014 – six months ago. According to the Regulations, these plans must set out the backlogs in school infrastructure in each province, and must specify the manner in which the Province will eradicate these backlogs in accordance with the time frames of the Norms and Standards. In order for learners, educators and members of the public to be able to hold the Department accountable to the Norms and Standards, these plans need to be made public. EE is very concerned that, at the half way mark of the first time frame for implementation, the plans are still being withheld.
When we held sleep-in protests in March the DBE attacked us, saying we “want the plans to be rushed” and were “attention-seekers”. But consider the constant shifting of the goalposts by the DBE:
- In November 2014, more than 4 months ago, the DBE released a statement in which it said, “The Minister will consider the plans before making them public.”
- In late December 2014, in the Daily Dispatch, the DBE said “the Minister will meet with the MEC in January or February to go through the plan before making it public.”
- In early March 2015 the DBE said the “Minister is meeting MECs in the next 10 days.”
- In May 2015, in response to EE’s pressure and protests, the DBE said the plans would be released “in a few weeks”.
What will they say now?
In the past six months EE has visited more than 40 schools around the Eastern Cape, including schools in King Williams Town, Butterworth, Dutywa, East London, Mthatha, Grahamstown and the Maluti education districts. In all these areas EE has found schools in the most appalling of conditions, including learners learning in small shacks that are hot in summer, leaking during the rainy season and unbearably cold in winter. When the department is asking us to wait longer for the plans they are saying that learners in such schools must wait longer to know how and when their schools will be fixed. This is not fair.
When EE held mass meetings with representatives from more than 80 schools in King Williams Town and Butterworth, we found that these schools did not know about the norms and standards. EE is concerned that too little has been done to ensure that schools are aware of their rights to better infrastructure.
We consider the release of the provincial plans a matter of urgency, the Minister has had 6 months to consider the plans. As Equal Education we are committed to ensuring the Norms and Standards are implemented. We campaigned for the adoption of this piece of legislation for over 3 years and (preferably hand in hand with government) we will continue to work to ensure that its potential is realised, and that all students are taught in safe, dignified and proper schools.
The march will gather at 11:30 on the 29th of May at the Department of Social Development in King Williams Town. The handing over of the memorandum will be at 14:00 at the Eastern Cape Department of Education in Zwelitsha.
For more information contact:
Lumkile Zani (Head of Eastern Cape Office) 084 607 5336
Daniel Linde (Deputy Head of Eastern Cape Office) 083 601 0091
Yoliswa Dwane (EE Chairperson) 076 706 2338
Nombulelo Nyathela (EE Spokesperson) 060 503 4933