Education sector widening racial, social inequalities: NGO
Problems in the education sector deepen racial and social inequalities, a number of non-government bodies (NGOs) said on Monday.
In an open letter to basic education authorities, they called for an urgent meeting to address what they regarded as problems.
"This meeting should identify short and long-term interventions that will ensure the continuation of services and processes ... to resolve the many systemic barriers to the provision of education in this country."
These included what was described as a lack of norms and standards for school infrastructure, a failure to curb sexual violence and corporal punishment in schools and a failure to provided many pupils with textbooks.
The letter was compiled by the Legal Resources Centre, Section 27, the Centre for Child Law and Equal Education.
It was addressed to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and basic education director general Bobby Soobrayan.
Other problems identified were that the department had not delivered on its promises to provide pupils with transport and school libraries.
The NGOs acknowledged that Motshekga had inherited many of these problems with her tenure and that post-apartheid South Africa had inherited an unequal education system.
"Yet, 18 years since the right to education was constitutionally entrenched many of the structural inequities remain, some of which are outlined above," the NGOs said.
Quality education was only available to those who could afford it and as such "this state of affairs has profound and continuously deepening negative ramifications for the majority of learners who are black and poor".
While the NGOs believed solutions could be found without resorting to legal action, it would not rule out litigation if they found this necessary.
Also on Monday, AfriForum raised concerns over what it termed the department's lack of accountability.
Deputy chief executive Alana Bailey called on Motshekga to resign because AfriForum believed the department was "robbing youth of their future".
Motshekga should resign in acknowledgement of her responsibility for the thousands of pupils who had not received textbooks.
"Six months into the school year, some learners in Limpopo still have not received textbooks, while thousands of books are apparently being destroyed or remain in a warehouse."
Comment from the department and ministry of basic education could not be immediately obtained.
Motshekga previously apologised to parents and pupils over the non-delivery of textbooks in Limpopo schools, but denied blame.
She attributed the delay in textbook delivery to issues including cash flow and administrative problems.
In May, the High Court in Pretoria ruled the department's failure to provide textbooks violated the Constitution. The application was brought by rights organisation Section 27.
Judge Jody Kollapen ordered the department to devise a catch-up plan to remedy the consequences of the delay, and to supply the affected schools with textbooks by June 15.
The department failed to meet the court's deadline, but Motshekga said her department had met with Section 27 and agreed to move the deadline to Wednesday.
On Saturday, Congress of the People MP Tshilidzi Ravhuanzwo said "piles and piles" of textbooks and stationery had been dumped for disposal at a site in Seshego, near Polokwane.
Limpopo education department spokesman Pat Kgomo said the matter was being investigated.