Equal Education condemns the Department of Basic Education's (DBE) buying advertising – reported at an estimated R900,000 – to defend itself, attack civil society organisation SECTION27, and mislead the public.
In some instances it might be appropriate for a government department to buy advertising space to publicise the outcome of a court case. This would apply when such information would be useful to citizens in regards to ensuring implementation of a court order. For example, it would have been appropriate for the DBE to have publicized the various deadlines by which books were supposed to have been delivered in Limpopo throughout the various rounds of litigation, and to have publicized a telephone hotline for the public to report shortages. Such information would have enabled the public to support the DBE’s efforts to comply with the court order. However the advert in question is intending only to deflect responsibility from the DBE, and not to serve people. This is an inappropriate use of public money.
The only specific response we have to the contents of the advert is in regard to this statement by the DBE:
“We call on all members of society, including Section27 and its allies, to work with the department, rather than against it, in our quest to realize the goal of providing a textbook for every child by 2012.”
This is disingenuous. A loose coalition of organizations, include EE and SECTION27, have twice written to Minister Motshekga and DG Soobrayan asking for a meeting to discuss various challenges. The first letter was sent on 21 June 2012. It offered the beleaguered DBE the opportunity to address issues “outside of legal processes” through the development – in consultation with civil society – of a “sustainable strategic plan which moves beyond litigation to address the immediate and long term systemic failures in the provision of the right to education.”
This letter was not responded to, and no meeting was held.
A follow-up letter sent on 17 August has also never been replied to.
Yoliswa Dwane (EE Chairperson) on 072 342 7747/ 021 387 0022