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Another fight in Basic Education: SECTION27 intervenes in Eastern Cape Teacher Crisis

ANOTHER FIGHT IN BASIC EDUCATION:

SECTION27 INTERVENES IN EASTERN CAPE TEACHER CRISIS

On 12 July 2012, the Eastern Cape High Court will hear an application brought by the Legal Resources Centre on behalf of the Centre for Child Law and the governing bodies of five schools in the Eastern Cape Province. The application relates to the failure by the Eastern Cape Department of Basic Education (“the Provincial Department”) and the National Department of Basic Education (“the National Department”) to implement the 2012 post establishment in public schools in the Eastern Cape.

The post establishment process determines how many educators are allocated to specific schools. The failure to implement the 2012 post establishment has led to a failure to appoint teachers to vacant posts, placing many schools in a state of crisis and financial peril:

  • Some schools have appointed teachers to vacant posts at their own expense;
  • Some schools are relying on emergency donations from parents or volunteer teachers;
  • Many schools in the Eastern Cape which do not have the resources to appoint staff to fill vacancies have been left with vacant posts, their learners having received no tuition at all this year.

SECTION27, acting on behalf of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, has applied for leave to intervene as amicus curiae in this application. The focus of our intervention is the obligations arising from the National Department’s intervention in the Provincial Department in terms of section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution, following failed attempts at collaboration and co-operation with the Provincial Department.

We will argue that the conduct by the National Department and the Provincial Department is in breach of the right to basic education, and the commitment by the National Department to the “Triple Ts” in learning: textbooks, teachers and time. It is also a breach of the principles underlying section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution, which requires the National Department, when it intervenes in the affairs of the Provincial Department, to assume responsibility for the obligations of the Provincial Department and to ensure that the fundamental rights violations are remedied.

The National Department intervened in the Provincial Department in terms of section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution on 11 March 2011 to address serious problems in basic education,
including the crisis in post provisioning. Since this intervention, there has been no significant improvement in education in the Eastern Cape. The National Department is accordingly in breach of its obligations to maintain essential minimum standards in terms of section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution, as well as its own direct obligations relating to basic education.

With many provincial government departments throughout the country under intervention in terms of section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution, it is essential that the obligations of the
National Executive in this process are clarified so that serious violations of constitutional rights may be swiftly addressed.

For further information contact Nikki Stein on 011 356 4118 or 082 528 7232.