In Limpopo, a poor rural province in northern South Africa, there is a ongoing education crisis. Many schools do not have access to key components of the right to basic education, such as toilets, drinking water, desks, paper, chalk and even classrooms, to ensure a conducive learning environment.
Two years ago, a case was brought to court for the non-delivery of textbooks in Limpopo's schools. Since then, the situation has improved but this year, still 39 Limpopo schools have not received the textbooks.
Community based organisation Basic Education for All (“BEFA”) and the school governing bodies of 18 schools in Limpopo have approached the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to compel the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Limpopo Department of Education (LDoE) to deliver textbooks to 39 Limpopo schools, and to develop a plan to ensure full delivery of textbooks to all other schools in Limpopo. The case is heard today in the North Gauteng High Cour and the Government will once again be compelled to explain a failure to fully deliver textbooks.
The applicants seek an order -
- Declaring that the DBE and the LDoE have violated the rights to basic education, dignity and equality, as well as undermining the dignity and effectiveness of the courts and the principles governing good public administration;
- Compelling full textbook delivery to the 39 schools whose shortages have been communicated to the DBE and the LDoE by 7 April 2014, which is the first day of the second school term;
- Directing the DBE and the LDoE to develop and file a plan by 10 April 2014 as to how they intend to address the remaining textbooks shortages at schools throughout Limpopo
The applicants further seek an order directing the South African Human Rights Commission (“SAHRC”) to monitor compliance by the DBE and the LDoE with the order of the Court. This is in line with the SAHRC’s obligation to monitor and assess the observance of human rights in South Africa. The applicants believe that, given the importance of textbook delivery and the fact that the DBE and the LDoE have made misleading statements about textbook delivery in the past, independent monitoring of compliance with the court order is essential.
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