South Africa

Govt is too slow to implement norms and standards for school infrastructure - EE

JOHANNESBURG - There are renewed concerns that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) will not be able to meet a deadline set for this week for the norms and standards for public school infrastructure.

According to the regulations, all schools should be provided with enough classrooms, electricity, water and internet by Sunday.

But civil organisation Equal Education (EE), which went to court over the matter, on Wednesday said that the rate of change in getting this done was too slow.

It has been seven years since Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga signed the norms and standards into law, but strides made in improving conditions in the country’s schools left a lot not to be desired.

Protracted legal battles over the matter led to a judgment in 2018, compelling the minister to publicise reports detailing progress made in implementing the regulations.

A deadline for the implementation of the norms and standards was set for this Sunday, but Equal Education’s Jay-Dee Cyster said that there simply had not been enough political will to see this through.

“Our engagements with Education departments, and our analysis of the latest provincial school infrastructure reports, show that the departments still struggle with the basics such as accurate and accessible data, clear and coordinated planning, as well as making sure that the implementing agents and contractors that build schools on behalf of government are held accountable. National and provincial governments are also not putting enough money toward building and fixing our schools,” Cyster said in a statement.

“With the 2020 deadline here, Minister Motshekga and the Education MECs still haven’t complied with the 2016 norms and standards deadline! Learners and teachers in Limpopo, KZN, and Eastern Cape are still using plain pit latrines that threaten their safety and violate their dignity. Gauteng and the Western Cape, still grapple with schools made of inappropriate material and classroom shortages.”

In the event that the minister fails to meet the deadline, schools would have the option to either individually or collectively sue the department.

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