Finally after 3 years, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has given in to public demand and will make changes to minimum uniform norms and standards for public school infrastructure regulations and agrees that regulations can be improved upon. There will changes to the previously set time frames and priority will be given to the worst schools in the country.
One of the most significant changes to the minimum uniform norms and standards for public school infrastructure regulations is the time frame for all schools built with mud, asbestos and other inappropriate materials which has been reduced from 10 years to 3 years.
The final version of the minimum uniform norms and standards for public school infrastructure regulations was finally released on Friday by Minister Angie Motshekga, and now both national and provincial departments of education will be held directly accountable if schools are up to scratch.
The NGO Equal Education after many years of campaigning has finally succeeded in changing the regulations. The general secretary of NGO Equal Education, Brad Brockman, stated that the organization is pleased with the changes and is hoping to work with Minister Angie Motshekga and all education departments to provide decent schools for all learners in South Africa. He said, “ These regulations will be part of her legacy and have the potential, subject to implementation, to improve the lives of millions of children.”
Brokcman did add that the only disappointment for the NGO was that it took so long and many courts applications and threats for the regulations to be finalized and published.
Another significant deadline change for basic services from 10 to 3 years is the provision of power, water and sanitation. The provision of basic services within 3 years is a major victory to the changes to the school infrastructure regulations and “major victory for activism”.
As part of the new regulations and a significant improvement on the draft norms and standards is that all classrooms, electronic connectivity and fencing will now have to be provided within 7 years, while libraries and laboratories will have to be provided within 10 years. All other infrastructure norms and standard will be have to be provided by 2030.
Brockman did add that the NGO is disappointed that MECs are only required to develop their infrastructure plans within the next instead of the 6 months as mentioned in the draft document.
The NGO Equal Education will continue to fight and campaign and make sure that all provincial departments planned, budgeted and implemented the norms and standards fully. they would also make sure that all plans and reports be reported publicly and make sure that all departments be held accountable and on schedule.
Chief executive of the Governing Body Foundation, Tim Gordon, commented on the new minimum uniform norms and standards for public school infrastructure regulations as a positive step forward and a good balance between what was practically possible and what was ideally desirable. “It is clear they have taken into account the submissions that were made. It is certainly improved from the one we had as a draft earlier. A very sensible, reasonable and responsible approach. We hope it will be implemented as well as it has been set out in the regulations.”
Gordon added that even though the final completion date is still 2030, at least the education department’s priorities have changed.
The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa has also commented on the new norms and standards are generally pleased and extremely happy about the amended 3 year deadlines.