Eastern Cape Schools Solidarity Visit begins

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The Solidarity Visit is being held in the lead up to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga publishing Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure.  Equal Education (EE) campaigned for two years and instigated legal action against Minister Motshekga before she agreed to set the regulations, due to be published on or before 15 May 2013. The regulations will set a minimum standard for infrastructure that all schools will have to meet. These regulations will set standards for sanitation, electricity, water, class sizes, security, libraries and computer centres, amongst other things.

The delegates on the Solidarity Visit include: Elinor Sisulu, Janet Love, Sindiwe Magona, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Lindiwe Mokate, Zakes Mda, Graeme Bloch and Professor Pierre de Vos. They were accompanied by a group of EE staff, education scholars Nic Spaull (University of Stellenbosch) and Kim Porteus (Nelson Mandela Institute) and education lawyer Cameron McConnachie (Legal Resources Centre).

Lindiwe Mokate, who spent 18 years in exile and served as CEO of the South African Human Rights Commission, explained her shock at the conditions of the school infrastructure they saw: “What we have seen here is not what we bargained for and it’s not because we didn’t know there were problems. We knew we would see a lot that needed to be fixed but the extent is something that shocked us. The conditions under which children are expected to learn and the dangers that we have seen within the classrooms are something we could never have imagined before we came here.