Equal Education
Court Cases

COURT CASES

Equal Education acts through the law to promote change in education.

Moshesh Senior Secondary School

In 2012 Equal Education (EE) was contacted by Eastern Cape (EC) learners describing appalling problems at their rural school, Moshesh Senior Secondary School.

When EE visited the school in June 2012 it became aware of numerous problems. These included:

  • Teachers arriving late for classes and leaving early. Teachers were also frequently absent from school without explaining their absence. In these cases alternative arrangements have not been made to ensure that teaching continued.
  • There was a shortage of qualified teachers for critical subjects at the school.
  • The principal was absent from the school  for nine months, from October 2011 to June 2012. 
  • On his return, the principal failed to carry out basic administrative tasks that threatened the chances of learners writing their final exams.
  • The principal also unlawfully expelled two grade 12 learners.
  • Curriculum planning and delivery were not occurring and were not being monitored by the principal or the district.
  • The school was underperforming in the matric examinations, there was high repetition and dropout.
  • There were not enough textbooks at the school. Some learners used outdated textbooks from 1986 that did not meet the current curriculum requirements.

Folowing the trip EE made a documentary about the learners at Moshesh.

Equal Education tried to resolve these problems by contacting the Maluti district director Mr Mtatyana, the acting superintendent general Mr Mgonzo and Eastern Cape education MEC Mr Makupula from June 2012 until November 2012. However, despite numerous written and telephonic correspondences, most of the problems were not resolved. 

In November 2012, Palesa Manyokole, a grade 12 learner at Moshesh, with the support of 9 other learners from Moshesh Senior Secondary School, Equal Education and her mother, filed papers against the district director, the EC Head of Department, the EC MEC for Education, the school principal, the Director General and the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga. Palesa kep a register for her teachers that is being used as evidence of absentism [PDF]. 

The story has been covered by the Mail and Guardian, The Sowetan, The Times and the South African Press Association

Court documents:

In November 2012 Palesa; her mother, Madimo Mouthloali; 9 other learners at Moshesh; and Equal Education's chairperson, Yoliswa Dwane, filed founding and supporting papers in the Bhisho High Court in the Eastern Cape:

  • Palesa Manyokole's founding affidavit [PDF]. 
  • Madimo Mouthloali's supporting affidavit [PDF]. 
  • Yoliswa Dwane's supporting affidavit [PDF]. 
  • 9 learners' supporting affidavits [PDF]. 

On 12 December 2012 MEC Makupula filed his answering affidavit [PDF]. 

In response to MEC Makupula's answering affidavit two replying affidavits were filed: 

  • Palesa Manyokole's replying affidavit [PDF]. 
  • Yoliswa Dwane's replying affidavit [PDF]. 

On 22 April 2013 the EE Law Centre sent a letter to the State Attorney seeking clarity on a number of issues including the remedial plans for the current grade 11s and the 12s and the capacity of the school governing body [PDF]. 

 

A settlement is reached. 

 

On Thursday 13 June 2013, four days before the scheduled hearing of the matter, Equal Education and the Eastern Cape Department of Education met in East London to discuss progress made to resolve the problems at the school and to chart a way forward. The department reported that:

-they had investigated financial mismanagement at the school

-the school principal was currently under suspension

-a new acting principal had been appointed to turn the school around

-a new school governing body had been appointed and was being supported by the department

-they were investigating the adequacy of the educators at the school against the curriculum needs of the school as well as the status of school governing body posts

-the department had investigated the textbook shortages and had undertaken to ensure that all shortages would be addressed

-they had declared Moshesh SSS as an underperforming school and had instituted measures to address the underperformance

As a result of these efforts by the Eastern Cape Department of Education, the learners and Equal Education agreed to postpone the hearing of the matter pending resolution of the outstanding questions.

A settlement agreement has been reached and settles the matter on the following basis:

1) School management and governance

The respondents have undertaken to:

-institute and finalise disciplinary proceedings against the suspended principal of Moshesh Senior Secondary School

-appoint an acting principal to take over the management of the school

-provide on-going support to the newly appointed acting principal and SGB

2) Vacant educator posts: The department undertakes to monitor teacher attendance and discipline.

3) Provision of LTSM: The department is to ensure full provision of learner teacher support materials.

4) Compliance with section 58B: No later than one month after signing this settlement, the department is to submit a report that provides details on the following:

-academic performance of the school, per subject and grade

-how the district office will work with and support the school to develop and implement a strategy to improve academic performance

-development of a school improvement plan

5) Grade progression and registration: The department is to investigate and assist the learners who were compelled to write accounting exams instead of tourism.

6) Catch-up plan: Provision by the department of a catch-up plan for grade 11 and 12 learners for all subjects the learners did not receive adequate teaching and textbooks for in 2012.

7) School hostel: The department is to conduct a needs assessment for the Moshesh hostel and submit a report by the end of the 2013 academic year.

8) Costs: The second respondent undertakes to pay the cost of this application.

 

The settlement will assist the school and the community to improve the teaching and learning conditions and governance at this school. We will also assist the community, parents and learners to monitor the implementation of the settlement conditions.

Equal Education continues to welcome dialogue with the Eastern Cape Education Department to ensure that underperforming schools in a similar position to that of Moshesh Senior Secondary are fully supported so that all learners in the province can receive a quality education.

 

What Happened after the settlement

Almost year after the settlement was reached, we went to visit Moshesh to see if there had been any progress made since the settlement and we found that the school was still in the same conditions it was in before the settlement. The only part of the order that was implemented was the replacement of the old principle with the new one.

We then decided to meet with a number of stakeholders including the district, community members, learners, parents, teachers and the teachers union in order to find a way forward as to how we make sure the court order is implemented. All the meetings did not assist in getting a clear commitment in making sure the problems at the school are fixed.

On the 11th of August we sent a letter of demand to the department in aid of specific performance on the settlement. The department has till the 25th of August to respond to the letter.