'Our classroom ceilings could collapse at anytime'

Equal Education has received submissions detailing how some Gauteng schools are falling apart.

FILE: Equal Education says schools countrywide deserve basic infrastructure such as electricity, running water and school libraries. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Equal Education says Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga's draft legislation on the minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure has left much to be desired.

The civil rights group on Thursday said schools across the country deserve basic infrastructure such as electricity, running water and school libraries. But it added Motshekga's draft is weak and gives no timeframes as to when her policies will be implemented.

Equal Education held public hearings last night to ask the general public to submit their own opinions on the draft.

It received submissions from schoolchildren across Gauteng, detailing how their schools were falling apart.

One Tembisa High School pupil said the school was in a poor state.

"Sometimes the water there is not reliable and it sometimes goes. Our school's classrooms have damaged ceilings and could fall at anytime."

He added there was only one working toilet.

Equal Education said it would fight for the legislation to be strengthened.

According to the group, there are still 400 mud schools in the Eastern Cape, while 629 schools in KwaZulu-Natal do not have access to water. Only 19 percent of schools in Gauteng have working libraries, the organisation added.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has joined the group in condemning the draft.

The commission's deputy chairperson, Pregs Govender, said she was shocked that not a single education official attended last night's hearings.

"The minister should be here, the MEC should be here, the [directors-general] should be here, the directors should be here - they should be listening and hearing what you are talking about," Govender remarked.

The SAHRC and Equal Education say they will fight for the legislation to be strengthened.