Norms and Standards for school infrastructure are affordable if government collects sufficient revenue and does not waste it.

Equal Education (EE) has published a report on 15 ways for the government to fund the new Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. Download it here.

For 3 years Equal Education campaigned tirelessly for legally binding Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. On the 29th of November 2013, the Minister of Basic Education finally published the norms and standards and they were promulgated into law.  Equal Education has since focussed its attention in this area to supporting and ensuring the implementation of the Norms and Standards. However, a senior Western Cape government official recently claimed that the Norms and Standards are unaffordable. To counter this argument, with which we disagree, we have published a report showing that funding the norms and standards is a question of political will, good governance and the appropriate allocation of resources.

At present the main current sources of funding for school infrastructure are the Education Infrastructure Grant and the School Infrastructure Backlogs Grant (implemented through ASIDI). In the 2014/15, a little less than R10 billion was allocated for the two grants combined. This is not enough to bring all public schools in line with the Norms and Standards.

This new report by EE, titled “15 ways to pay for decent schools” focuses on expenditure that could’ve been avoided altogether and expenditure that serves narrow middle class interests rather than the poor majority. The document also provides examples of how additional revenue could be collected for the improvement of school infrastructure.

Some of the examples include:

  • R1,1 billion of fruitless and wasteful expenditure was reported for national and provincial government agencies reported by the Auditor General for the 2013/14 financial year
  • R11,5 million in catering for the Mpumalanga legislature, ensuring that each MPL gets a free full English breakfast and lunche, and finger food if meetings do not end by 4pm.
  • R47m spent on officials suspended for long periods for serious offences.
  • Lost tax income due to 9 300 South Africans with annual incomes of more than R7 million each, or wealth of more than R75 million each, evading payment of personal income tax. The Minister has said that SARS was losing R19 billion or more each year because these rich people were not paying their taxes.

Read the full report for more. EE is also very interested to receive additional examples from members of the public. Send them to us!

School Infrastructure continues to be a huge problem in need of serious attention. Across the country there are still mud schools, schools with no electricity or water, schools with no fences, schools where there are over 100 learners in a single classroom. These are all problems that can be solved with implementation of the Norms and Standards. This document is meant to spark public debate in anticipation for the budget speech this Wednesday (25 February 2015). The examples provided in the document are surely not the only examples and the public should get involved in bringing forward their own examples, enriching discussion and pressuring government to fix our schools.