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Statement: Equalisers to hand homework to EC Education MEC Gade at picket today

17 October 2019

Today, learner members of Equal Education (EE) will picket at the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE) headquarters in Zwelitsha, to remind MEC Fundile Gade of his homework, as the legally binding 2020 deadline of the Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure nears. 

The latest National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) report, published in August this year, reveals that little progress has been made in reducing infrastructure backlogs as a matter of urgency. The NEIMS report shows that:

– 1 934 schools are contending with plain pit latrines; and

– Of the 1 934 schools, 1 587 schools having only plain pit latrines. 

Upon our request, the ECDoE has committed to produce an updated Norms progress report, which will accurately detail the province’s progress in eradicating infrastructure backlogs, but we are yet to receive it. 

Over the past four years, EE members have investigated the compliance with the Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure at more than 60 schools in the Eastern Cape, from Grahamstown to Mthatha. We have repeatedly called on the ECDoE to provide decent infrastructure to the Eastern Cape’s forgotten schools to ensure that learners’ rights to dignity, safety and education are protected. While the ECDoE has been forthcoming in engaging EE on these issues, it has not followed through on all its commitments and the progress of infrastructure upgrades is far too slow

MEC Gade’s homework

We call on Eastern Cape Education MEC Fundile Gade to ensure that the ECDoE:

  • Provides an updated Norms and Standards Progress Report, as they committed to in a meeting with us in June this year.
  • Immediately implements the recommendations of our implementing agents report, as ECDoE HOD Themba Kojana committed to do in a meeting in November last year. Those commitments included:
    • Engage the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in order to begin developing guidelines for the appointment of implementing agents.
    • Develop a mechanism that will ensure that the public can access important and up to date information on construction projects at specific schools.
    • Ensure that infrastructure steering committees are established at schools and that meetings are held regularly to ensure that school communities remain updated on the progress of building projects.
    • Address the ECDoE’s failure to ensure that non-performing and underperforming contractors are blacklisted.
  • Commits to meeting with us before the end of this year to respond to our memorandum and to provide a clear plan on complying with the 2020 Norms deadline.

Failure to comply with legally binding deadlines

The ECDoE failed to comply with the first of the legally binding Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure deadlines. By 29 November 2016: 

  • All structures in schools made of inappropriate materials such as mud, asbestos, metal or wood should have been replaced.
  • Schools with no access to water, electricity or sanitation should have been provided with these basic services. Plain pit latrines are prohibited.

We fear that the ECDoE will fail to comply with the second legally binding deadline. By 29 November 2020: 

  • All schools must be provided with an adequate supply of classrooms, electricity, water, and sanitation.
  • Electronic connectivity and perimeter security must be provided to all schools.

MEC Gade, your term in office demands urgency, competence and accountability, now is the time to #FixOurSchools! 

Date: Thursday 17 October 2019

Time: 2pm

Place: ECDoE, Steve Tshwete Complex, Zone Six, Zwelitsha

[END]

To arrange a media interview: 

Jay-Dee Cyster (EE Communications Officer) jay-dee@equaleducation.org.za 082 924 1352

Leanne Jansen-ThomasStatement: Equalisers to hand homework to EC Education MEC Gade at picket today