STATEMENT: Better planning, better data and real accountability required to comply with 2020 deadline for Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure

Home | STATEMENT: Better planning, better data and real accountability required to comply with 2020 deadline for Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure

28 November 2019

Tomorrow, Friday 29 November, is the sixth anniversary of the Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure (Norms and Standards) being signed into law by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. 

When our #FixOurSchools campaign began, to get Minister Motshekga to adopt the Norms and Standards, 3 544 schools had no access to electricity and 2 402 schools had no access to water. A further 804 schools had an unreliable electricity supply and 2 611 schools had an unreliable water supply. 

Equal Education’s (EE) advocacy around the Norms and Standards, recognises that safe and conducive school infrastructure is a critical component of ensuring quality education, along with other important factors such as teacher training and support, curriculum, textbooks, safety and scholar transport.

It is an important victory that almost every school in South Africa has some access to water and electricity supply! However, as the  2019 National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) report shows, this access is unreliable. Access does not necessarily mean water from a tap, or connection to the electricity grid – thousands of schools are relying on inconsistent rainwater harvesting, mobile tankers, boreholes and community taps for water; and are yet to be connected to the electricity grid. 

Friday begins the countdown to the legally binding 2020 deadline of the Norms and Standards, by when all schools in South Africa must be provided with:

  • An adequate supply of classrooms, electricity, water and toilets; 
  • Perimeter security (fencing, burglar bars, security cameras); and
  • Electronic connectivity (internet access, phones, intercoms).

The current national school infrastructure backlogs

According to data that is currently publicly available, provided by the Department of Basic Education (DBE), in the form of the 2019 NEIMS report:

  • Toilets: At 3 710 schools, plain pit latrines are the only form of toilets (plain pit latrines are banned by the Norms and Standards)
  • Electricity: 169 schools are entirely without electricity supply, and 582 schools are reliant on generators for electricity
  • Electronic connectivity: 170 schools have absolutely no electronic connectivity, approximately one third of schools have access to the internet for administrative purposes, and approximately one fifth of schools have access to the internet for teaching and learning. 

The NEIMS report does not contain any data on how many classrooms need to be built, or on the number of school buildings that are constructed of inappropriate material (mud, asbestos, zinc or wood).

Crucially, some of the data in the NEIMS report is contradicted by:

  1. The everyday schooling experiences of Equalisers (EE’s high school members);
  2. School visits conducted by EE;
  3. The annual provincial Norms and Standards implementation plans and progress reports; and 
  4. The findings of the national School Monitoring Survey, which was released by the DBE earlier this year. The School Monitoring Survey investigated the quality of school infrastructure that was installed, and whether facilities actually worked. The findings included that, of the 2 000 schools in the sample, 76% had running water and 67% had sufficient classrooms. There were, however, considerable differences between provinces, with the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal being the worst off. 

What it will take for government to comply with the 2020 deadline: The fulfilment of the People’s Performance Contract for Minister Motshekga 

Earlier this year, Equalisers from Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, the Western Cape, and the Eastern Cape presented a memorandum of demands to Minister Motshekga’s office, in the form of a People’s Performance Contract. The key performance areas (KPAs) that related to school infrastructure were:

  • Better planning:

Strengthen coordination between the DBE and the relevant national, provincial and local government authorities 

Ensure formal and transparent consultation with school communities when schools are to be rationalised, based on rigorous planning

Provide a template to the Education MECs to use for the provincial infrastructure implementation plans and progress reports

  • Better data and better access to information for school communities: 

Amend the Norms and Standards, as ordered by the Bhisho High Court

Provide regular and detailed updates on progress to school communities and the broader SA public on compliance with the Norms and Standards

Publish the monthly infrastructure expenditure reports of provincial education departments (PEDs)

Ensure information on construction projects at specific schools are publicly available through an infrastructure portal

  • Accountability of implementing agents and contractors:   

Develop guidelines for how Heads of Department (HODs) of PEDs must appoint implementing agents (IAs) and evaluate their capacity when doing so

Make public a blacklist of poorly performing IAs and building contractors after comprehensively auditing them

Kerata go laetsa  gore Norms and standard e bohlokwa kudu kage ele molawana woo otla thusang nmuso go kaonafatsa dikolo tša Afrika borwa  ka bophara. Ge sekolo se sena infrastructure ya maleba seo se ama gampe thuto ya bana. 

Mmuso o paletse ke go fihlelela deadline ya bona ya 2016, ga bjalo  geo ka lebelela bana ba ekabago ba babedi ba hlokofetsa kago wela ka gare gadi ntlwana tša botshwela mare. Mmuso  ka boikokobetso hle lebelelang go lokisa dikolo tša rena. Kena le bonnete bja gore gele bereka goya kadi deadline tša lena  dilo ka moka ditla loka. Ngwaga o wa 2019 ofihlile mafelelong, gopolang ka deadline ya 2020. Re kgopela dikolo tša goba le serithi kudu dinaga magaeng.

Sekolo se bolokegileng ka infrastructure ya maleba, thuto ya gona ekgona goba ya maleba.” – Mamaila Teffo, Limpopo Equaliser and National Council (NC) member

We demand that government meet the school infrastructure targets that it has set for itself! We demand that government deliver on the basic school infrastructure needed to fulfill the rights to safety, dignity, and education!


To arrange an interview, contact:

Jay-Dee Cyster (EE Communications Officer) 082 924 1352

Leanne Jansen-Thomas (EE Head of Communications) 079 4949 411