EE MARCH SUPPORTED BY ZWELINZIMA VAVI, THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR SCHOOL GOVERNING BODIES, THE RIGHT TO KNOW CAMPAIGN AND THE UNEMPLOYED PEOPLES’ MOVEMENT
Tomorrow – Friday 29 May – Equal Education members and supporters from around the Eastern Cape will be marching to the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDOE) in Zwelitsha. Our march will consist of learners, parents and educators from a number of schools built form inappropriate structures, or without proper sanitation, water or electricity, and community members from King William’s Town, Kieskammahoek, Ginsberg, Zwelitsha, Mdantsane, Butterworth and Grahamstown. Numerous community organisations and individuals will support the march, including Zwelinzima Vavi.
At the march, EE is demanding:
1. Immediate release of all 9 provincial plans for implementation of Norms and Standards. The Norms and Standards regulations, which set out the facilities every school must have, and timeframes to provide these, required each education MEC to hand these plans to Minister Motshekga by 29 November 2014 – six months later, the plans to fix our schools have not been made public.
2. Full and timeous implementation of the Regulations relating to Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure – the first time frame under the regulations requires the state to ensure that all schools have water, electricity and sanitation, and that all schools are built from appropriate structure, by 29 November 2016. Tomorrow is the mid-way point in this three year period. Tomorrow there is exactly one and a half years to go.
It is outrageous that 18 months after the Norms & Standards for School Infrastructure became law, there are still no implementation plans publicly available. The Minister has had 6 months to review and consider the plans, yet she still has not released these plans.
EE’s visits to more than 40 schools in the Eastern Cape, and community meetings with representatives from around 100 schools, have shown that, at the half way mark of the first time frame for implementation – to replace schools built from inappropriate materials and provide electricity, water and sanitation to schools with none – School Governing Body members, educators and learners have not been informed about their rights under the Norms and Standards, and do not know when their schools will be fixed.
For a fuller background to our march tomorrow, please see our previous press release here: https://www.equaleducation.org.za/article/2015-05-21-release-the-ns-implementation-plans-now-ee-to-march-to-ec-dept-of-edu-29-may-2015
EE sent a request under the promotion of Access to Information Act asking that the Department of Basic Education provide us with the implementation plans. The DBE requested an extension until after a meeting between the education MECs and the Minister of Basic Education, which was scheduled to take place on 21 May 2015. EE accepted the DBE’s request for an extension. But yesterday, 27 May 2015, the DBE informed us that this extended deadline would not be met, and set a new release date of 12 June.
As we explained in our previous statement: there have been numerous promises and assurances. The DBE cannot realistically expect us to sit back and continue to wait.
Our campaign for implementation of the norms and standards for school infrastructure is called the Michael Komape Campaign, and is named after a 6 year old learner who died last year when he fell into a dilapidated pit latrine at his primary school in rural Limpopo. Like Komape, hundreds of thousands of learners attend school in unsafe conditions, which are completely unsuited to learning. Every delay in finalising comprehensive plans to fix our schools constitutes a decision to delay the provisioning of human rights and justice to South Africa’s learners.
Organisations supporting the march will include the National Association for School Governing Bodies, the Right to Know Campaign and the Unemployed People’s Movement.
Amongst the equalisers (high school members of EE) leading the march will be learners from Forbes Grant Secondary School in Ginsberg, the school which was attended by Steve Biko, Steve Tshwete and Victoria Mxenge. Today, the destination of our march – the ECDOE – has its building named after Steve Tshwete, but learners at his alma mater still struggle with the danger of a broken fence and the hardship of trying to study science in poorly equipped laboratories. EE members at the school are carrying on the tradition of their predecessors, mobilising around the struggle for equality and quality in education.
We consider the release of the provincial plans a matter of urgency. 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 we will continue to work (preferably hand in hand with government) 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 (next to the Golf Course). The handing over of the memorandum will be at 14:00 at the Eastern Cape Department of Education in Zwelitsha.