By Sarah Kingon
The team at Ukufunda are proud to announce that Equal Education (EE) have launched a new office in King William’s Town this month. Joining their counterparts at the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC), this will be EE’s first office in the Eastern Cape. Leaders Daniel Linde and Lumkile Zani look forward to tackling EE’s school infrastructure project in our province. Lumkile Zani- formally the Head of Department for EE’s Community Department in Cape Town will be heading up the Eastern Cape office.
After the release of the legally binding Norms and Standards from the education minister on 29 November 2013, EE has set out to ensure they are implemented. But first, they have to check that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has recorded each school’s infrastructure needs correctly.
Linde and Zani have found that in other provinces, the DBE has in some cases incorrectly recorded the information about school’s requirements.
“The rolling out of norms and standards is within the power of the state. We don’t aim to do an after the fact audit, but rather constantly monitor that norms are being implemented and mobilise members and learners to demand that the government complies. And where necessary, the EE Law Centre will support that work,” said Linde.
The DBE has issued a three year plan stating that by the end of 2016, all inappropriate school structures will be dealt with. In three years’ time, all schools should have water, electricity and sanitation. By the 2016/17 financial year, there should be no mud structure of any sort in any South African school. In seven years’ time all school structures should be in compliance with the norms and standards for school infrastructure regarding basic facilities and safety. The 10 year plan intends to rectify other problems including the building of science laboratories and libraries.
Zani said that the Eastern Cape EE team wants to work with the media to mobilise citizens to take action on the issue and hold the government accountable. They hope to publish the department’s findings on schools in provincial newspapers and ask community members to compare these with the realities in their local schools. This will ensure that the DBE and provincial departments’ plans to rectify inappropriate and unsafe school infrastructure are based on accurate, up-to-date information. This will in turn ensure that limited resources are effectively used to assist the worst affected schools.
inde said that current records state that there are five schools in the Makana region that lack electricity and three are partially made of inappropriate structures.
29 November 2014 will mark a year since Minister Angie Motshekga issued the Norms and Standards. The binding regulations stipulate that a year from the promulgation of the Norms– all provincial department’s must finalise and submit updated infrastructure plans.
Questioned on their choice of office location, Linde stated that the choice to position their offices in King William’s Town was motivated by the presence of a solid EE membership base, the town’s proximity to schools in the most need of change as well as being the seat provincial power in Bhisho.