The DA welcomes the settlement by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) of the case brought by Equal Education regarding minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure.
We welcome any move by government to improve school infrastructure and look forward to the process to be undertaken in drafting the regulations in consultation with all stakeholders, including the provinces that have to administer the implementation.
According to the National Education Infrastructure Management System report, 2 401 of South Africa's 24 739 public schools do not have water, 3 544 do not have electricity and 11 450 are still using pit latrines.
Learners are doing without basic education facilities: 22 938 schools do not have stocked libraries, 21 021 are without any laboratory facilities and 19 037 do not have computer centres.
In terms of the settlement agreement, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has undertaken to:
- Make and promulgate regulations which prescribe minimum uniform norms and standards for school infrastructure in terms of section 5A(1)(a) and 5A(2)(a) of the South African Schools Act on or before 15 May 2013'; and
- Publish a draft of the regulations for public comment on or before 15 January 2013; and consider any comments made pursuant to their publication before 31 March 2013.
In setting out the norms and standards and the target dates the Minister must be cognisant of previous undertakings that she has committed herself to, such as those set out in reply to a parliamentary question in April, stating that:
"The focus for the 2010-2014 Strategic Plan period will be on all schools that do not meet the basic safety standards and those constructed from inappropriate material and are a danger to learners and educators. Those without basic services will be provided with water, sanitation, electricity and fencing. Where an entire school has been built from an inappropriate material especially mud, this school will be replaced with a school to Optimum Functionality."
The DA will closely monitor the compliance of the undertakings made by the Minister and contribute to the regulation process with comment and recommendations. We must ensure that the norms and standards prescribed are pragmatic, implementable and in the best interests of learners to ensure the provision of quality education for all.
Annette Lovemore, Shadow Minister of Basic Education