Court orders education dept to set up furniture task team

Genevieve Quintal, News24

Mthatha - The Mthatha High Court on Tuesday ordered the department of basic education to form a "furniture task team" to deal with the issue of a lack of grade and age appropriate furniture in Eastern Cape schools, the Legal Resource Centre (LRC) said.

The department was also ordered to assess school furniture needs of all schools in the province and deliver all of it by April next year, LRC spokesperson Claire Martens said in a statement

The order was made by agreement between Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and the Centre for Child Law (CCL), which was being represented by the LRC.

The court ordered that the minister appoint the task team and prepare a consolidated list of furniture needs which had to be published on the website of the Eastern Cape department or the national department by May 31.

The list would then need to be verified by August 31 and the minister was required to ensure that all schools in need received the age and grade-appropriate furniture by April 1 2017.

The department of basic education said it had already set up the task team as per the court order, and it had started its work in November last year.

"The task team will prepare a consolidated audit of furniture needs at all public schools in the Eastern Cape Province and report back to the court as stipulated in the settlement order," spokesperson Troy Martens said.

"The department of basic education will continue to provide support to ensure that the provincial education department in the Eastern Cape delivers on its mandate."

The LRC said this was the fourth court order made in the school furniture saga that had been plaguing schools in the province for years.

The CCL and LRC welcomed the latest court order.

"Although the order does not appoint an independent body to ensure performance as was requested by the CCL in its counter-application, it is hoped that this order will be complied with and that Eastern Cape learners' right to a basic education in a properly equipped environment will be upheld," said Martens.