I, the Minister of Basic Education, am happy to announce that I have approved a set of draft regulations containing minimum uniform norms and standards for school infrastructure. These draft regulations will be published in the Government Gazette for public comments on 12 September 2013. I invite all education stakeholders to study the draft regulations and to provide us with your comments by 11 October 2013. The comments that we receive will be studied and evaluated, and, where appropriate, incorporated in the draft regulations. I am convinced that this process will further contribute to our shared vision of a better education for all our learners. It is my intention to publish a final set of regulations on or before 30 November 2013.
The objectives of the regulations will be to guide the provisioning of an enabling physical teaching and learning environment that is sustainable and equitable for all learners in South Africa and, therefore, at improving access to quality education facilities.
The regulations provide for a process and timeframes in terms of which provincial education departments need to implement the norms and standards provided for in the regulations. Certain norms and standards, namely, the availability of classrooms, electricity, water, sanitation and perimeter security are to be prioritized. I regard these norms and standards as being crucial for a conducive school environment.
Members of the Executive Council of provincial education departments will also be required to annually provide me with detailed plans on the manner in which the norms and standards are to be implemented and to report to me annually on the implementation of their plans.
The design of infrastructure, products, environments, programmes and services need to be usable by all people, to address the diversity of learners and teachers with functional limitations. Furthermore, schools for learners with special education needs must comply with the requirements related to the nature of the specialised support programme offered at the school.
The size norms for education areas, education support areas and administration areas, which concepts are defined, are determined in the regulations.
The regulations then deal with the norms and standards specifically mentioned in section 5A(2)(a) of the South African Schools Act of 1996, namely classrooms, electricity, water, sanitation, libraries, laboratories for science, technology, mathematics and life sciences, sport and recreational facilities, electronic connectivity at a school and perimeter security. In drafting these norms and standards, the comments that we received on the draft regulations that were published on 8 January 2013, were specifically considered and, where appropriate, incorporated in the new draft regulations. International guidelines dealing with these matters were also taken into account.
Design considerations for educational spaces and educational support spaces, such as natural day lighting, the avoidance of glare, ventilation, acoustic conditions and background noise and reverberation also figure prominently in the regulations.
Finally, it is provided that the Department of Basic Education must periodically review the norms and standards contained in the regulations in order to ensure that they remain current. Although a provincial education department may within the parameters set by the regulations, adapts the norms and standards to best suit schools within the province concerned, such adaptation may not result inadiminution of the minimum norms and standards set by the regulations.