Pupils’ dignity still being violated
RECENT reports on the state of sanitation in Gauteng and Limpopo schools show the provinces being worlds apart on the provision of the basic service.
Advocacy organisation Equal Education (EE) found that while the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) was not outright in violation of the norms and standards, maintenance of sanitation facilities needed addressing.
“Without a look at why sanitation facilities continued to deteriorate despite upgrades and renovations, schools and provincial education departments such as the GDE will remain caught in an unending cycle of sanitation upgrades,” said the report.
“The important challenges that need to be addressed to improve the state of sanitation include high learner-to-toilet ratios, and the department needs to ensure that schools are providing soap, toilet paper and sanitary bins,” added EE co-head of research Hopolang Selebalo.
In Limpopo, public law interest centre Section 27 found pupils’ rights to dignity and equality continued to be violated by the sanitation crisis.
At least 33 schools still had pit latrines, 35 had inadequate toilets, 11 had poorly maintained toilets, 10 had a combination of new toilets and old pit latrines, and three had sanitation facilities that were either not age-appropriate or disability friendly.
Section 27 labelled the situation “a manifestation of a lack of political will and a lack of understanding of the duties that stem from the right to basic education”.
Limpopo education department spokesperson Sam Makondo said they were still studying the report.
MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi welcomed EE’s acknowledgement of the commitment to address the state of school infrastructure.
“Most of the problems that have been identified arise from poor maintenance or neglect by the schools.
“The department will undertake repairs and maintenance on a case by case basis and fully review the report and incorporate substantive findings into its plans accordingly,” said Lesufi.