Legal Resources Centre submits affidavit for court oversight on furniture delivery to Eastern Cape schools

JANUARY 22, 2015

The Grahamstown-based Legal Resources Cen­tre (LRC) on Wednesday said that it recently filed an affidavit with the High Court for court oversight on furniture delivery to Eastern Cape schools.

“More than two years ago, the Cen­tre for Child Law, rep­re­sented by the LRC, insti­tuted pro­ceed­ings in the High Court to com­pel the East­ern Cape Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion (ECDOE) and the Depart­ment of Basic Edu­ca­tion (DBE) to address the fur­ni­ture cri­sis in East­ern Cape pub­lic schools. Despite repeated under­tak­ings from the ECDOE and DBE, as well as three court orders, fur­ni­ture has still not been deliv­ered to all schools,” the LRC said in a statement.

“The fur­ni­ture saga is set to con­tinue this year. The Cen­tre for Child Law recently filed a reply­ing affi­davit in response to the ECDOE and DBE’s Sep­tem­ber and Novem­ber 2014 affi­davits, which set out the progress made so far in deliv­er­ing fur­niture.

“They requested an exten­sion until June 2015 to com­plete the deliv­ery. In request­ing this exten­sion, they stated that suf­fi­cient bud­get has now been secured to pro­cure the nec­es­sary fur­ni­ture; fur­ni­ture that the court ordered be deliv­ered almost eight months ago.”

The LRC said that the orig­i­nal dead­line set for the deliv­ery of the fur­ni­ture was 31 May 2014.

“How­ever, on 28 May 2014, the ECDOE and DBE launched an appli­ca­tion for an exten­sion until 30 Sep­tem­ber 2014. That date, too, has come and gone with­out com­pli­ance. As a result, there are still tens of thou­sands of stu­dents in the East­ern Cape who will begin another year with­out desks and chairs,” it said.

It said that in its inves­ti­ga­tions, the LRC found that many schools with fur­ni­ture needs have either had their needs incor­rectly recorded on the DBE’s fur­ni­ture audit, or sim­ply not been included in the audit at all.

“As it stands, the DBE’s cur­rent plan is not suf­fi­cient to meet the needs of the schools in the province, as the fur­ni­ture audit was not accu­rate and the entire bud­get needed to sup­ply the fur­ni­ture has not been sourced,” it said.

“As a result of this, and the con­tin­ued requests for exten­sions, the Cen­tre for Child Law’s reply­ing affi­davit seeks a more detailed struc­tural inter­dict, requir­ing monthly report­ing on the progress made in procur­ing and deliv­er­ing fur­ni­ture, updated audits of fur­ni­ture needs, and detailed time-frames for per­for­mance by the ECDOE and DBE.”

The LRC said that despite the fail­ure of the ECDOE and DBE to com­ply with the court order of 20 Feb­ru­ary 2014, or to make good on the President’s promise in his 2014 State of the Nation Address that fur­ni­ture deliv­ery would be com­pleted by the mid­dle of August 2014, the LRC and Cen­tre for Child Law acknowl­edge that progress has been made***.

“The LRC is hope­ful that this lat­est affi­davit will ulti­mately lead to a court order that sees the ECDOE and DBE held account­able to their promises and to the chil­dren of the East­ern Cape,” it said.


***   99% of the R17 mil­lion worth of fur­ni­ture that was pre­vi­ously in stor­age has been deliv­ered to 169 schools. R40 mil­lion and R60 mil­lion has been taken from the ECDOE’s 2014/2015 Learner Teacher Sup­port Mate­r­ial bud­get to pro­cure fur­ni­ture. How­ever, it appears that orders have not yet been placed. The DBE has pro­vided fur­ni­ture to 252 schools in the Libode dis­trict, and under­taken to sup­ply fur­ni­ture to 544 more schools in eight other dis­tricts of the East­ern Cape. It is esti­mated that deliv­er­ies to the 544 schools will com­mence at the end of Novem­ber 2014 and will be com­pleted by the end of Jan­u­ary2015. The DBE has also com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing dou­ble com­bi­na­tion desks to all ASIDI schools in the East­ern Cape (the ren­o­vated for­mer mud-schools), and these deliv­er­ies are ongo­ing.