If education is a child’s basic right than it is a democratic duty to act when someone infringes upon this right. The Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) will ask the South African Human Rights Commission to investigate the Free State Education Department’s repeated failure to make the annual payments to public schools. In addition, FEDSAS has instructed its lawyer to write a letter of demand to the Free State Education Department to demand that payments be made within two weeks. If not, FEDSAS will approach the High Court.
“Every year without exception schools in the Free State start the new school year without money for expenses such as water, electricity and stationary. Provincial education departments are responsible to pay over this money from the National Treasurer twice a year, but this does not happen in the Free State,” says Dr Jaco Deacon, Deputy CEO of FEDSAS. Deacon says so-called no fee schools’ future is directly linked to this money.
“In addition the Department is dragging its feet with the appointment of a number of principals and level 1 teachers. Despite the fact that governing bodies completed the recommendation processes in time and according to procedure, appointments were not made. Many schools in the Free State reopened without permanent principals or enough teachers.
“The excellent performance of the province’s matriculants was celebrated on a grand scale by the Free State Education Department. However, the Department’s share in this success is extremely limited. In most instances officials are failing children in public schools by withholding from them even the most basic necessities such as access too drinking water, toilet facilities and teachers.”
For years FEDSAS has been trying to address the problem by speaking directly to the Department. “However, all our efforts have come to nothing. Schools often have to use the little money they do have to pay legal fees in order to force the Department to make the payments. This is why FEDSAS, on behalf of parents and learners in the Free State, has decided to ask the Human Rights Commission to investigate this matter.
“At the same time the Public Protector will be approached to try and get answers as to why the provincial department repeatedly fails to pay the money from the National Treasury to schools before the deadline. The money does not belong to the Department – its only function is to pay the money over to schools. This raises the question as to where this money is.”
FEDSAS will hand in documentation at the Human Rights Commission and the Public Protector in Bloemfontein on Friday, 19 January 2018 at 11:00.
In March this year the three-yearly election of members of school governing bodies takes place. Given the barely concealed efforts to infringe upon parents’ right to make decisions about their children’s education through the proposed Basic Education Law Amendments and maladministration at provincial level, it is clear that school communities have to become more involved in the governance of schools if we want to avoid the possibility of state schools. It is time for parents and other role-players to make their voices heard.”