On Tuesday April 5th, Equal Education will lead three thousand learners, parents, and teachers in a march from Zone 1 in Zwelitsha to the Eastern Cape Department of Education. The march will begin at 9:00am.
Today's march stands not in isolation but as part of the growing movement of school community members across the Eastern Cape who have grown increasingly outraged by the failure of the Department to provide children with an adequate basic education. The education crisis includes, but is not limited to, crumbling school infrastructure, textbook shortages and delays, missing furniture, and vacant teacher and principal posts.
We are demanding that MEC Makupula and Superintendent-General Netshilaphala are held to account over the education crisis in the province and the impending violation of the norms and standards for school infrastructure.
We are also calling upon Minister Angie Motshekga to account for the Department of Basic Education's failure in its oversight of the provincial education department. Since 2011's Section 100 (1)(b) takeover of the Eastern Cape Department of Education, Minister Motshekga has been directly responsible for the provision of education in the province. However interventions have been limited throughout and near non-existent since late 2013. Meanwhile, learners in the province have suffered.
School Infrastructure Crisis
At the forefront of the Department's failure is the extent of the school infrastructure crisis. Through Equal Education's schools visits and surveys of nearly 250 schools across the province, we have seen the conditions, sometimes fatal, that learners face daily in schools. Even in 2016, we continue to find schools without roofs, walls that have collapsed and killed learners, classes administered under trees, and learner-teacher ratios of eighty to one.
We are in the final year of first time frame for implementation of the norms and standards for school infrastructure. The regulations state that by 29 November 2016 there must be no schools without water, electricity or sanitation, and that all schools must be built from appropriate structures. The Eastern Cape Department has openly acknowledged that it will not meet this deadline and will therefore stand in direct violation of the law.
Despite the Department's claims that they do not have sufficient funds to fulfill the law's requirements, R530 million from the Education Infrastructure Grant was unspent and recently returned to Treasury.
The Department continues to point to school rationalisation to excuse and explain away their poor infrastructure delivery, but have neither shared these plans publicly nor properly consulted schools to be closed as the South African Schools Act mandates.
– A progress report detailing which schools have had their infrastructure addressed under the norms and standards by the province, and plans for addressing the remaining schools that need to be fixed,
– The urgent appointment of teachers and principals to address critical shortages and vacancies,
– The appointment of permanent leadership in the Department of Education's “acting” posts, and
– Public engagement and transparency around the Department's plans to rationalise over 2,000 schools.
For comment please contact:
Lumkile Zani (Head of Equal Education Eastern Cape): 084 607 5336
David Carel (Deputy Head of Equal Education Eastern Cape): 071 041 3336