South Africa : Public to comment on school infrastructure policies

By Gabi Khumalo

Pretoria - The Department of Education has invited interested people and organisations to comment on the National Policy for School Infrastructure and National Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure.

The policies gazetted by the department recently aim to regulate and formalise the provision of school infrastructure.

In September 2007, Cabinet recommended that the department explore innovative ways of accelerating the provision of school infrastructure and eradicate school infrastructure backlogs.

The National Policy for School Infrastructure is published in terms of section 3(4) of the National Education Policy Act, 1996(Act No 27 of 1996).

The aim of the policy is to provide guidelines towards an equitable provision of an enabling physical teaching and learning environment for all learners in South Africa, indicate clear roles and responsibilities and unify accountability in the provision of school infrastructure.

The Policy outlines the eight policy areas which are:

· · nationally established norms and standards for an enabling teaching and learning environment;

· · systematised establishment and prioritisation of infrastructure needs;

· · planned development of an enabling environment;

· · standardised architectural designs;

· · management and maintenance of immovable assets;

· · diversification of funding sources;

· · demonstrated delivery capacity, and

· · systematised procurement management and procedures for the sector.

The National Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure are published in terms of section 5A of the South African School Act, 1996 (Act 84 of 1996).

The norms and standards provide a clear classification of schools and a minimum and optimum package that constitutes a functional and an effective school.

The proposed norms and standards cover the areas including classification of school types, capacity of a school, space norm per learner, classroom size, school site size and location, accommodation spaces required by school type, norms and standards for sports facilities as well as norms and standards for basic services.

On implementation, the department said the minimum norms and standards for infrastructure will ensure equity in the provision of the physical teaching and learning environment, facilitate quality of the teaching and learning environment and the consequent impact on learning outcomes and facilitate efficient use of resources.

Both documents are available from government printers as Gazette No 31616 and Department of Education web site from Monday.
Comments can be sent to the Director-General, Private Bag X895, Pretoria, 0001 for attention: Mrs E Mamathuba. The public can also call (012) 312-5954 or fax (012) 312-6058 or email - BuaNews