CENTRE FOR CHILD LAW (CLC)
AND LEGAL RESOURCES CENTRE (LRC) BRING VITAL CASE TO GRAHAMSTOWN HIGH COURT ON APPOINTMENT
OF TEACHERS

AFTER DELAY OF SEVEN MONTHS DEPRIVING SCHOOLS OF TEACHERS THE DEPARTMENT’S
LEGAL PAPERS SAY MATTER IS “NOT URGENT” AND “MUST BE DISMISSED”

 

Thursday 12 July 2012                                                        

Today a crucial case is being heard in the Eastern Cape High Court (Grahamstown) that has been brought by the Centre for Child Law (CLC) and five school governing bodies, represented by the Legal Resources Centre. The case will be heard before Judge Beshe at 10h00.

The case concerns the unequal and unfair distribution of teachers to schools in the province and the failure of the Eastern Cape Department of Basic Education (ECDBE) to implement their own ‘post provisioning plan’ for 2012. A post provisioning plan is a plan to ensure that there is a fair distribution of teachers to all schools in the province and that schools have the teachers (and other staff) that they require to provide basic education.

The CLC and other applicants are seeking an order that will require the ECDBE to appoint teachers to vacant posts in schools across the province, many of which have been severely
understaffed for almost ten years.

The applicants argue that the failure to implement the ECDBE’s own approved post provisioning plan is a breach by both the National Department of Basic Education (NBE) and the ECDBE of the right to basic education. As a result tens of thousands of learners are being starved of teachers and parents in the poorest communities are having to take money out of their own pockets to pay for temporary teachers and other essential school staff.

SECTION27 has applied on behalf of the National Association of School Governing Bodies to intervene as amicus curiae, or friend of the court.

Our argument is simple:

FIFTEEN months ago, on 2 March 2011, in recognition of the crises in education in the Eastern Cape, the NBE assumed responsibility for the obligations of the ECDBE through an intervention in terms of section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution.

We argue that the Constitution’s purpose for such an intervention is to empower the NBE to take urgent and immediate steps to take over responsibility for the obligations of the ECDBE in order to maintain minimum standards of service delivery. The allocation of teachers – like the provision f textbooks – is clearly one such priority. Without teachers there cannot be teaching.

But more than a year after the intervention ‘post provisioning’ remains a serious problem and thousands of vacant posts remain unfilled.

SECTION27 on behalf of the NASGB therefore seeks to clarify and enforce the obligations of the NBE, arguing that–

  1. Under section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution, the NBE MUST assume responsibility for those obligations which the ECDBE has failed to fulfil; and
  2. Under sections 7 and 29(1)(a) of the Constitution, the NBE MUST ensure that the province respects, protects, promotes and fulfils the right to basic education.

On this basis we fully agree with the Centre for Child Law and the other applicants that the NBE must be ordered to implement the post establishment and to ensure that vacant teacher posts are filled. Clearly, the matter is urgent and every passing day prejudices learners.

Once again we urge the government to recognise the rights of all learners in South Africa. An emergency plan to overcome the education crisis cannot be delayed a moment longer.  Without a decent education there can be no equality of opportunity.

 

For more information contact Mark Heywood on 083 634 8806 or Nikki Stein on 082 528 7232.