EE accuses South African minister of ‘attack on non-racism’

equal-education3Equal Education (EE) has issued the following media release:

Equal Education (EE) notes with shock and disappointment the statement released by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) headed “Equal Education is disingenuous: Minister Motshekga”.

Every factual claim about the process needed for the finalisation of Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure is wrong and misleading. EE will issue a full statement explaining this in due course, but it is all explained in this relatively short affidavit:

It was on the basis of this affidavit that Judge Dukada of the Bhisho High Court decided that the matter is urgent, and is to be heard on 11 July 2013.

But the most unfortunate part of the DBE’s statement reads as follows:

“It is interesting to note the sudden interest that Equal Education is taking in the education of the African child. Suddenly the NGO knows all about the challenges that African children face against the privileges they have enjoyed.

“To suddenly see a group of white adults organizing black African children with half-truths can only be opportunistic, patronizing and simply dishonest to say the least.”

As it happens the majority of EE’s leadership went to the very township and rural schools we are fighting to fix. A link to EE’s National Council, of which I am chair, can be found here:

www.equaleducation.org.za/page/national-council. At the same time EE consists of people of every background and we are very proud of this. Any person who commits themself to advancing the daily struggles of poor and working class youth is welcome in EE. That these values exist is something that those responsible for education should celebrate, not attack.

The DBE’s statement is a very serious attack on non-racism, the Constitution and the legacy of Nelson Mandela. That it appears on a government letterhead is shocking. Cabinet will surely be concerned about this.

The statement is issued in the name of Minister Motshekga. We urge the Minister to urgently clarify whether she in fact wrote or had sight of the statement. We would like to give the Minister an opportunity to distance herself from such appalling racism, to retract the statement and to offer an apology to Equal Education.

EE has always engaged with the Minister in a robust but respectful way.

We are not and have never been at war with her personally. EE is currently campaigning for Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure.

These regulations will create a binding standard to ensure that every school meets an acceptable standard of infrastructure.

In November 2012 Minister Motshekga signed a settlement agreement in which she committed to consult fully and publish binding school infrastructure regulations by 15 May 2013. EE extended this deadline to 15 June to accommodate the Minister. Now, in breach of this settlement agreement, she has requested another six months to accomplish what she agreed would take place between November 2012 and May 2013. After four years of delays EE’s membership cannot accept this.

The point of Norms and Standards is to empower the Minister, communities and civil society to hold provinces and private companies accountable for fixing our schools. We need the Minister to comply with her obligations and to work with us so that we can make progress for the poor and working class, predominantly black, children of South Africa.

Issued by Yoliswa Dwane: Chairperson of Equal Education (18 June 2013)