Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, in her first six months of her third term in office, has failed to eradicate pit toilets at schools and comply with the 2016 Norms and Standards deadline for school infrastructure.
This is according to the Equal Education, which has drafted a Key Performance Area (KPA) contract for the minister.
On Tuesday, EE members, as well as pupils attending high schools around Gauteng, staged a demonstration outside the Department of Basic Education offices in Pretoria to deliver what they called a People’s Performance Appraisal for Motshekga.
Clad in school uniform, with placards and posters of pit latrine toilets, the pupils sang and danced outside the offices as they prepared to hand over their appraisal to the office.
“The reason why we (EE) felt it’s very important to draft a people’s performance contract is because, for a very long time, the minister has been doing her work, but we do not know what her performance is measured on.
“[This contract is] to make sure that at the end of her term in five years, we are able to say these are the things we have been asking from her and this is how she has performed,” EE deputy secretary Tracey Malawana said while addressing the group.
The members outlined that, while the 2019 National Education Infrastructure Management System states that plain pit toilets were eradicated in 648 schools over the past year, 3,710 schools were still using them.
They also said that, while the department had said that all schools had access to water and that 169 schools still needed electricity, its research proved otherwise.
Motshekga had also failed to provide better data and access to information for school communities, and had not amended the norms and standards, as ordered by the Eastern Cape High Court in Bhisho.
The department set Norms and Standards for South African school infrastructure in 2013, with a deadline to fix the infrastructure by 2016. It, however, failed to meet the deadline it had set for itself.
The Eastern Cape High Court in Bhisho ruled in July 2018 that it was unconstitutional and invalid for the government to delay fixing poor and unsafe school infrastructure.
The ruling was made in what was known as the #FixTheNorms matter, which the advocacy group instituted against the department.
Equal Education also stated that Motshekga had also not made sufficient progress in complying with the 2020 Norms and Standards deadline to ensure that all schools had enough classrooms and enough water, electricity and toilets.
“There is no publicly available information on progress related to the amended Norms and Standards,” Yolanda Magugu from Charlotte Maxeke Secondary School said.
Magugu added that Motshekga had also failed to efficiently and effectively spend the budget on the school’s infrastructure “Backlog Grant”, as well as ensuring that provincial departments effectively made use of the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG).
The members also mentioned in their appraisal contract that the minister had partially achieved the key performance of providing scholar transport to pupils who qualified, although there had been no updates on the progress towards introducing a conditional grant.
The contract was received by department director Johan Visser, who said Motshekga had tasked him to receive it on her behalf as she had other engagements outside the province.
Visser said the minister would be replying to Equal Education’s performance opinions, and would outline the work the department had done so far, as well as its future plans.
Malawana said there were ways the department could use the plan to fix the problems in the education system.
“They need to account and hold people accountable within the department. They need to have a political will. We hope, six months from now, we won’t find ourselves here,” she said.