19 March 2018

South Africa: Too Many Children Have Died in Unsafe Schools

opinion

Our new president and minister of basic education must truly commit to fixing schools rather than permitting problematic legal challenges to go ahead against legitimately instituted demands for decent schools. Have a summit, and fix the school infrastructure regulations.

Last week, SECTION27, representing the Limpopo-based organisation Better Education for All (BEFA) was in the Bhisho High Court in the Eastern Cape as an "amicus curiae" (friend of the court) to support Equal Education's case for effective school infrastructure regulations.

The regulations in their current form were first published in 2013. The publication of these regulations, in fact, only occurred as a direct result of a protracted legal battle between the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Equal Education, the latter demanding the regulations as a constitutionally mandated road map for safe and decent school infrastructure to redress the under-resourcing of black education under apartheid. In an 11th-hour settlement agreement in 2012 between government and Equal Education, government finally agreed to publish the school infrastructure regulations.

These regulations establish minimum benchmarks in respect of provisioning for among others: classrooms, electricity, water, sanitation, libraries, laboratories, electronic connectivity and perimeter security. It also sets incremental target dates for meeting specified...

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