The Department of Basic Education has extended the deadline for the submission of comments on the amendments to the regulations relating to the minimum norms and standards for public school infrastructure.

The deadline for the submission of written comments is 31 July 2022, the Department of Basic Education said in a statement on Friday.

The Minister of Basic Education on 10 June 2022 published a Government Gazette, with proposed amendments to the Regulations Relating to the Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure, issued in terms of Section 5A (1)(a) of the South African Schools Act, 1996.

The department said the purpose of releasing the Gazette is to give the public, including stakeholders, an opportunity to participate in the drafting of the regulations and to make substantive input that will be considered in drafting the final regulations.

In addition to the Government Gazette, the department uploaded, as per general practice, the document with the proposals on the website www.education.gov.za for public comment.

“The department is committed to a constructive public participation process. It is for this reason that the public should be accorded ample opportunity to engage with the document and submit comments,” the department said.

The proposed amendments have come about following consultation with the Minister of Finance and the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) earlier this year.

Improving schooling environment

The department launched the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) programme in 2011. It is aimed at improving learning outcomes and bringing better access to education.

There are currently 1 053 schools on this programme.

The department also launched the Sanitation Appropriate For Education (SAFE) programme in 2018, which is aimed at replacing basic pit toilets with appropriate sanitation, in accordance with the Norms and Standards for school infrastructure.

The department said provinces initially identified 3 898 schools dependent on basic pit toilets.

“There are currently 3 407 schools on this programme. Sanitation projects at 2 006 of these schools have progressed to practical completion…” the department said.

The department said that the implementation of major programmes is dependent on the availability of funding.

The ASIDI programme is funded through the School Infrastructure Backlog Grant, while the SAFE programme is also funded through the same grant, with co-funding from the Education Infrastructure Grant.

“In 2021/22, both these grants were fully utilised. It is important to note that infrastructure requirements due to unforeseen events, such as the recent flooding in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, are also in general funded through the same Education Infrastructure Grant.

“This may impact on the rollout of the remaining SAFE projects. The department has since stepped up the monitoring of projects to ensure that they are completed on time, to specification and budget,” the department said.

Minister Angie Motshekga has since October 2021 conducted weekly accountability sessions with the Director-General and the Infrastructure Branch at the DBE, where progress reports are presented, the department said.

In addition, the DBE said the Director-General holds weekly update meetings with the CEOs of the implementing agents.

The Director-General also convenes monthly infrastructure meetings with heads of provincial Departments of Education to receive progress reports on delivery and expenditure.

“Mathanzima Mweli, the Director-General of the Department of Basic Education, has been visiting construction sites since March 2021 to accelerate the delivery of the much-needed infrastructure.

“The monitoring function has assisted the department to unblock challenges and resolve issues that delayed the building process,” the DBE said.

The department said it is confident that the annual performance plan targets will be met and the budget allocated will be used. It has also developed detailed tracking tools and monitoring is taking place daily to ensure that implementing agents deliver as expected.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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