12 June 2014

Basic education sector PAIA workshop

On 13 May 2014 SAHA hosted a full day workshop on the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA) for Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) working in the basic education sector. The workshop was the second of three workshops.

The workshops are part of SAHA's work in creating awareness and empowering individuals and organisations to understand and utilise PAIA as a strategic advocacy tool.

The workshop kicked off with SAHA explaining that PAIA is one step that can be used by organisations to deal with broader issues in the basic education sector.

The workshop focused on training organisations on how to draft and submit PAIA requests. SAHA also took participants through the practical steps of turning their issues into PAIA requests. Taking from many years of experience in dealing with PAIA, SAHA also shared practical tips that participants could use when dealing with PAIA requests.

Participants were divided into groups where they drafted PAIA requests. From that practical exercise, SAHA has submitted some of the requests that participants drafted on the day. This was not only a practical training exercise, it was also to assist them with obtaining the records.

A similar practical exercise was done in the first workshop that was held on 25 March. A PAIA request was submitted from the draft requests of the participants. The requested records related to the procurement of toilets in relation to four schools in Soweto. The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development released the requested records in part. SAHA has since written to them requesting the release of all the records that were requested or give reasons for withholding the records.

Participants shared their frustration with public bodies that do not respond to requests for information that they normally request through letters. Bessie Motha from an organisation called National Association of School Governing Bodies said that because of the training she received from SAHA on PAIA, she will use PAIA to obtain the information for more evidence based advocacy work.

These workshops have also been used by the participating NGOs and CBOs as platforms to interact and discuss issues of mutual interest.

The next, and last workshop, will be held on Tuesday 24 June 2014.