Education Department loses appeal
ConCourt’s school infrastructure ruling
THE Department of Basic Education’s appeal against a judgment that compels it to provide timely infrastructure to schools has been dismissed by the Constitutional Court.
The Bhisho High Court had found loopholes in the regulations governing the provision of norms and standards to schools.
The court ruled in July that some of the regulations were inconsistent with the constitution, while others were invalid and had loopholes that allowed for extended delays in the provision of infrastructure.
NGO Equal Education had taken the department to court and was joined by another NGO, Section 27, as a friend of the court.
Norms and standards refers to the provision of water, sanitation and electricity among other things as part of school infrastructure.
The Constitutional Court concluded that leave to appeal be dismissed with costs as it had no prospect of success.
Daniel Linde, from the Equal Education Law Centre, said: “The High Court ruled in our favour in the #FixTheNorms court case, including ensuring the government cannot indefinitely delay fixing unsafe and inadequate school infrastructure and this judgment was affirmed by the Constitutional Court.”
He said one of the biggest loopholes identified was that infrastructure standards could be met only if co-operation and resources were forthcoming from other government agencies and entities responsible for school infrastructure, which implied that if one department failed to deliver on its mandate, the pupils would continue to suffer.
“We never wanted to go the court route, but we have tried to engage with them unsuccessfully. Deadlines to provide infrastructure have been missed and another to ensure that all schools have proper sanitation and electricity is coming up in 2020.”
He said the Constitutional Court judgment left the department with no option but to comply.
“One of the key issues confirmed by this judgment is that all provincial departments must produce plans for their infrastructure and make these public,” he said.
Zukiswa Pikoli of Section 27 said: “The judgment affirmed that government has an unequivocal obligation to provide safe and adequate school infrastructure as a crucial part of the right to basic education.”
Spokesperson and media liaison officer for the Ministry of Basic Education Troy Martens said the department was studying the judgment.