We call on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to withdraw its appeal against the Norms and Standards school infrastructure judgment.
We call on our President, our Minister of Basic Education and all nine Education MECs to recognise the criticalness of the Bhisho High Court’s judgment, and to accept it in the spirit of protecting the dignity, safety and future of South African learners.
The judgment has provided a much stronger legal framework through which South Africa's learners, parents, teachers and communities can ensure that unsafe and inadequate infrastructure at their schools is fixed.
Why is this important?
The Norms and Standards law compels the government to fix sanitation in schools. Last month, in the Bhisho High Court, Acting Judge Nomawabo Msizi fixed the unconstitutional loopholes in this law, which allowed Basic Education Minister Motshekga to indefinitely delay fulfilling this obligation. The judgment meant that government would be fully bound to meet the deadlines set in the law.
Instead of immediately beginning to improve school infrastructure, Cyril Ramaphosa’s government is now wasting desperately needed State resources and time to appeal the judgment. They are joined in this farce by the nine Education MECs.
In the wake of Judge Msizi’s positive judgment, on 31 July EE leaders wrote to President Ramaphosa about the need to move forward in efforts to decisively address the ongoing backlog of dangerous and inadequate infrastructure in South Africa’s schools. Critically, we explained to him that we tried to avoid recourse to the courts, and had reached out to Minister Motshekga as early as February 2014 to raise issues about the unconstitutional wording of the Norms and Standards.
In addition to our letter to the President, we wrote directly to the DBE. Both letters were not responded to.
But yet again, government chooses to dodge its constitutional, legal and moral duties to #FixOurSchools.
The decision to appeal the school infrastructure judgment jeopardises the fight for quality teaching and learning, and the immediate safety of learners. It is an incomprehensible and unconscionable collective dereliction of duty.
Government is unwilling to release school infrastructure improvement plans timeously, forcing us to lodge a Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) application.
The State missed its date to file with the Polokwane High Court, a plan to eliminate pit latrines in Limpopo, as required in the Komape case judgment, - instead it filed a last minute application to extend the deadline set by the High Court.
The time for debating the lives of South Africa's children in court must end!