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Johannesburg - The Department of Basic Education will have to fork out at least R100 billion to adhere to its own minimum norms and standards for public school infrastructure that were published last week.
The norms and standards, however, give the provincial departments 10 years to “phase in” the provision of classrooms, electricity, water, sanitation and perimeters, among other requirements, at existing schools.
All other norms and standards must be phased in before the end of 2030.
Members of the public and interested parties have until October 11 to make submissions on the proposed regulations.
According to a court order, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga must prescribe the final norms and standards by November 30.
The publication of the norms and standards was a result of papers that Equal Education filed at the Bhisho High Court in the Eastern Cape in November last year, calling on the minister to specify, with time frames, what infrastructure and facilities a public school should have.
The norms and standards Motshekga had initially published in January were heavily criticised for lacking specific details and time frames.
When submitting comments to the initial draft, Equal Education said: “The draft does not contain figures relating to classroom sizes, the number of toilets required, the type of electricity and water supplies to be provided, nor clarity or specificity on numerous other essential aspects of school infrastructure.
“The draft does not provide provinces with clarity as to what is adequate, does not provide clear time frames and does not include mechanisms for accountability,” the organisation said.
After some delays, Motshekga has published another draft for comment, and this time the regulations specify the class sizes and the teacher-pupil ratios.
The regulations also state that all schools must have some form of electrical and water supply, and adequate ablution and sport facilities, among other things.
Once the final norms and standards are published, education MECs have six months to “provide the minister with detailed plans on the manner in which the norms and standards are to be implemented” in their provinces.
Education analyst Graeme Bloch said he was not happy with the time frames for the norms and standards.
He estimated that it would cost the department about R100bn, if not more, to roll out the infrastructure as stipulated.
“In 10 years, the minister and the MECs won’t be in office. It’s easy to write something up and leave it for somebody else,” Bloch said.
He said the constitution, which states that everyone has the right to basic education, does not say this right is subject to feasibility.
Bloch said the department must come up with a more detailed plan regarding the implementation time frames.
“I think we need to be a little more creative and enhance collaborations with (other sectors),” he said.