Today Equal Education (EE) marched for minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure in Kraaifontein. During the march EE wore masks of Minister Motshekga’s face to draw attention to her failure to set the regulations. The march was held in the lead up to EE’s court case against Minister Motshekga which will be held on 20 November 2012 in the Bisho High Court, Eastern Cape.
Yoliswa Dwane, EE chairperson, addressed the marchers: “We are wearing masks of Minister Motshekga because she is the one that has failed to fix the school infrastructure crisis in South Africa. It is now more than 17 years since the start of democracy and most of South Africa’s learners are still faced with inadequate school infrastructure. We are going to court next month to force Minister Motshekga to set minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure. We will camp outside the Bisho High Court for the duration of the court case.”
Currently 3,455 schools do not have electricity, 2,402 schools have no water supply and 22,938 schools do not have libraries. Setting a national standard for school infrastructure would ensure that every learner in South Africa would be able to access a safe and resourced school. Section 5A of the South African Schools Act names Minister Motshekga specifically as the only person who has the power to do this. No one else in the Department of Basic Education can do this. Meaning, that if she never does, learners will continue to attend schools without resourced classrooms, without electricity or water and without safe functioning toilets. These realities, and many more, are vividly described by the 24 schools that contributed supporting affidavits to EE’s court against Minister Motshekga.
Yolanda Zibekile, a grade 10 learner from Scottsdene High School, also spoke: “In my school we only have two functioning toilets. We don’t have a library and we have to travel by taxi to public libraries. Sometimes we don’t have enough money to travel. We appeal to the Minister of Basic Education to set minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure so we can get a quality education.”
EE has engaged with Minister Motshekga on numerous occasions. During its two year campaign for minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure EE has fasted, picketed, petitioned, held community meetings, written countless letters and spent nights sleeping outside of Parliament. Over 100,000 people have signed our petitions and a further 40,000 have joined us in our marches. EE has met with Minister Motshekga about the need for minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure and written to her often. Last year she made a public promise to set minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure by 1 April 2011. She failed to meet her own deadline and has subsequently refused to. Her failure has perpetuated systemic school infrastructural problems and gross educational inequalities.
As we approach the court case next month we want the public to know who they must turn to for improved school infrastructure. Minister Motshekga must be held personally accountable for not setting minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure.
Yoliswa Dwane (EE chairperson) on 072 342 7747
Ntshadi Mofokeng (EE spokesperson) on 079 146 8507
Kate Wilkinson (Media officer) on 082 326 5353