Angie Motshekga: Minister of 'disdain'
Twenty-nine schools in Gauteng and 15 in Western Cape are made of asbestos - and, from today, the schools can go to court to force the government to rebuild them.
The government's self-imposed deadline for the implementation of the Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure expired yesterday, with Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga conceding that many schools in the country did not have basic requirements.
At least 68 schools have no sanitation facilities and 4,986 have only pit latrines. The government's own National Education Infrastructure Management System said of the more than 23,500 schools in the country, 171 have no water supply and 569 have no electricity.
Equal Education held a vigil in Johannesburg yesterday to highlight what it called the "disdain for the law" shown by the department which missed the November 29 deadline. In particular the NGO raised concerns about the so-called "asbestos schools" in Gauteng and Western Cape.
"Kliptown Primary School in Soweto is made of asbestos. Asbestos fibres are so dangerous that it is illegal for an employer to put any person at risk of exposure to them. Yet learners of Kliptown Primary and 28 other schools in Gauteng attend classes in buildings made of the substance."
The NGO also raised concern about 226 schools in Western Cape that are excluded from upgrades because they are on private land - 15 are partially or entirely made of asbestos.
"This deadline promised that all schools made of mud, asbestos, wood, metal or any other inappropriate material must be replaced. It promised that access to water, electricity and toilets be provided to all schools."
The NGO's legal representative, Lisa Draga, said the schools that were not given the required infrastructure could take the department to court.
"The norms and standards require the government to deliver on school infrastructure within certain deadlines. The minister has, by her own admission, failed to meet this deadline."
Motshekga said yesterday that the Basic Education Department and provincial education departments we re continuing to fast - track the delivery of infrastructure.