Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga would like to reiterate and clarify once more, the issue of the finalization of Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. While Equal Education takes to the streets with their ingenuous march involving school children, the Department continues to engage with them through letters the Minister has written to them, explaining the process that must, according to law, take place before the finalization of the Minimum Norms and Standards.
In the most recent letter to Equal Education on 9 May 2013, Minister Motshekga stated that the compulsory consultation process with NEDLAC has not been concluded, and that the Department awaits the final report. Once this has been submitted, the Minister must, by law, consider all recommendations of the report.
As this process unfolds, and the DBE opens up more avenues for the public to take part in the development and redrafting of the norms, the same NGO goes to court with imposing deadlines that would be impossible to meet, and would undermine the public participation processes of government.
It is interesting to note the sudden interest that Equal Education is taking in the education of the African child. Suddenly the NGO knows all about the challenges that African children face against the privileges they have enjoyed. The struggle for black children to receive a decent classroom in which to learn has been ongoing for many decades, even before the days of Bantu education.
The current government boasts of having delivered thousands of state-of-the-art schools for African children, and the Department of Basic education continues to acknowledge that more still needs to be done. However, to suddenly see a group of white adults organizing black African children with half-truths can only be opportunistic, patronizing and simply dishonest to say the least.
It is important to emphasize that norms and standards cannot be published at the whim of Equal Education. The South African government is a democracy that requires all involved and interested in education to have ample time to make input to the final Regulations.
Equal Education has all the right to go to court, as often as they would. If it were only for valid reasons that benefit all South Africans, more especially the schools whose interests they claim to represent. The DBE would have hoped that a stakeholder like Equal Education that sits in regular consultative meetings with the Department should know better than to ignore the democratic processes of government.
The DBE strives to carry out its mandate of providing quality basic education to all children, but this cannot be achieved at Equal Education’s request to flout the law. The re-drafted of the Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure will take up to at least 6 months to complete.
In the mean time, we are hard at work to provide quality basic education to our previously disadvantaged children. As from July, the DBE will open one school per week in the Eastern Cape, in addition to brand new schools we have handed over to communities in Mthatha in the past 3 months. These former mud structures all have ECD facilities, administration blocks, soup kitchens, ablution blocks, water and electricity. Equal Education will not be brave enough to acknowledge this, or any progress we make on a daily basis regarding School Infrastructure.