4 December 2018
Media statement: Victory! Eastern Cape Education Department commits to implementing all recommendations in Equal Education’s new school infrastructure report
Equal Education (EE) has secured a major victory in our school infrastructure campaign, with the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE) committing to implement all the recommendations in our new report, Implementing Agents: The Middlemen in Charge of Building Schools.
The report highlights the key enablers of effective school infrastructure delivery, which would ensure that Implementing Agents (IAs), who build schools on behalf of government, timeously build and fix schools.
On Friday, at the Eastern Cape launch of our report, which was attended by provincial government officials and representatives from certain IAs, Themba Kojana (ECDoE Head of Department) committed to preparing an action plan towards implementing the recommendations made during EE’s presentation on the report. Watch part of the meeting here on the official ECDoE Facebook page.
We launched the report at a meeting at the ECDoE offices in Zwelitsha. Representatives from IAs Amatola Water and Mvula Trust attended. Disappointingly, despite being well aware of the opportunity to engage with EE’s findings around the work of IAs, the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), Independent Development Trust (IDT), the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), and the EC Public Works Department were all absent. As entities that oversee the building of schools on behalf of the ECDoE, it is imperative that these IAs do not shy away from discussions that seek to ensure the timeous construction of schools and greater accountability from those responsible for fixing schools. This is one of the primary demands of the Norms and Standards campaign.
HOD Kojana committed to the following undertakings:
- There are currently no guidelines for how Heads of Department (HODs) must appoint IAs and evaluate their capacity when doing so. The HOD committed to engage with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in order to begin developing such guidelines.
- EE noted the lack of access to information on school construction projects and how this limits the ability of school communities, civil society and the general public to hold IAs and government accountable. The ECDoE committed to, at the next quarterly meeting with EE, present on a mechanism that will ensure that the public can access important information on construction projects at specific schools.
- Steering committee meetings should be held regularly at schools with construction projects to ensure that school communities remain updated on project progress. However, EE’s experience is that these rarely take place. HOD Kojana agreed with EE that these meetings are “non-negotiable” and committed to communicate with IAs to find out why these committees are not being established.
- The ECDoE has never added a contractor to Treasury’s contractor blacklist. HOD Kojana admitted that it is one of their failures that non-performing or underperforming contractors are not being blacklisted. The ECDoE will address this challenge.
- Upon hearing of delays in infrastructure upgrades at schools such as Vukile Tshwete Secondary School and Hector Petersen Secondary School, HOD Kojana committed to meet with stakeholders and ensure that progress is made.
“I want to congratulate EE on research well done. They have tabled a report that we can really action and we can do something it about… This is the outcome of our approach to collaborate. We have been presented with all our inefficiencies and we are now able to respond to them. We are going to action all of the recommendations mentioned here,” Kojana said.
HOD Kojana affirmed the value of the quarterly meetings between EE, the ECDoE and IAs, in strengthening collaboration and ensuring accountability, with the purpose of eradicating infrastructure backlogs in the province. He highlighted the importance of transparency, particularly around school project plans and the use of public money.
We welcome this productive engagement with the ECDoE, and look forward to engaging with the HOD’s action plan.
We will continue to fight for the full implementation of the Norms and Standards in our lifetime!
For further comment:
Roné McFarlane (EE Co-Head of Research) firstname.lastname@example.org
Hopolang Selebalo (EE Co-Head of Research) email@example.com
Leanne Jansen-Thomas (EE Head of Communications ) firstname.lastname@example.org