Our hero this week is the Centre for Child Law, an organisation based at Pretoria University, that’s fighting for a better life for South Africa’s children through education, research, advocacy and litigation – currently it is focused on the Eastern Cape, where the education situation is dire.
In November 2013 we published an article on the appalling conditions found by our investigative journalist at just one Eastern Cape school. In his second State of the Nation speech, delivered in June, President Jacob Zuma said the newly established chief procurement office would be addressing the situation, and that by mid-August all Eastern Cape schools would have new furniture.
However, the infrastructure of many schools in the province still leaves much to be desired, so the Centre for Child Law and five schools in the region took the national and provincial education departments to court, “to force them to identify all such schools in the province and to publish a rebuilding timetable”, reports the Times.
On Thursday 21 August the Eastern Cape High Court ruled in their favour.
The departments now have 45 days in which to publish the up-to-date list of schools with “inappropriate structures” – these include the 500 or so mud schools in the province.
The list also has to be accompanied by “a comprehensive plan detailing what infrastructure every school on the list would receive, along with timeframes”.
Certain criteria will be used to assess schools’ needs and infrastructure, and based on the results, the schools will be replaced, renovated, given temporary classrooms, or closed.
The Times also reports that the five schools that approached the High Court “would receive emergency relief, within 90 days of the order, in the form of safe and adequate structures, sufficient water, and adequate sanitation”.