Home South African Education Department plans to eradicate pit toilets by 2022

Education Department plans to eradicate pit toilets by 2022

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Data released earlier this year indicated that there were nearly 4,000 schools still using these dangerous types of toilets.

A parent looks at a school pit toilet. Picture: Dumisani Dube / African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – The Basic Education Department has set itself a deadline to eradicate pit toilets in schools.

Minister Angie Motshekga was replying to a written question in Parliament.

“The plan is to eradicate the dependency on basic pit toilets at the identified schools by March 2022,” she said.

Data released earlier this year indicated that there were nearly 4,000 schools still using these dangerous types of toilets.

“The SAFE programme (Sanitation Appropriate For Education) was launched to address the sanitation at 3,898 schools that reportedly were still dependent on basic pit toilets,” Motshekga said.

“Of these 3,898 schools, 427 have now been closed (mostly due to rationalisation).

“A further 725 of these schools have been assessed and the sanitation has been confirmed to be of an appropriate standard, although some of these sanitation facilities require some form of maintenance.

“The remaining 2,746 schools require intervention to eradicate the dependency on basic pit toilets,” said Motshekga.

The majority of these schools were in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. KwaZulu-Natal had 1,168 such schools while the Eastern Cape had 997.

Limpopo had the highest numbers among the inland provinces, with 298, followed by the Free State with 123.

There were 106 schools in Mpumalanga that still used pit toilets and 55 in the North West.

In the clearest indicator that this was a rural community problem, Gauteng and the Western Cape had no schools that used pit latrines.

Motshekga said work has started to eradicate pit toilets in the identified schools. “Of these 2,746 schools, the work at 612 schools is practically completed.

“There are construction projects at a further 420 of the schools,” she said.

A new report from the Public Service Commission (PSC) has decried the use of pit toilets in schools.

Commission representatives made unannounced visits to 60 schools to inspect compliance with regulations intended to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The PSC said: “Of concern for us was that some schools in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West are still using pit toilets.

“This is of serious concern since these facilities are essentially unhygienic.

“Expecting learners, teachers and staff still to use them is a clear infringement of their human dignity.

“Furthermore, these facilities have proven to be unsafe to use, particularly for young learners, as two in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo lost their lives while using such facilities.”

They were Michael Komape and Lumka Mkhetwa, both aged 5.

Michael fell into a pit toilet at Mahlodumela Primary School in Limpopo’s Chebeng Village and drowned on January 20, 2014.

Lumka drowned after she fell into one at Luna School outside Mbizana in the Eastern Cape in March 2018.

Later the same year, also in the Eastern Cape, another five-year-old almost drowned after falling into a toilet at Dalibango Primary in Centane.

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