1049 Eastern Cape schools without proper toilets – HRC must act

Edmund van Vuuren MPL

DA Eastern Cape Education spokesperson

A total of 1049 schools in the Eastern Cape do not have proper toilet facilities, according to Education MEC Mandla Makhupula’s reply to a DA parliamentary question in the provincial legislature.

This is a human rights violation on an unprecedented scale, with an estimated 260 000 Eastern Cape children attending a school each day without proper sanitation facilities.

The DA wrote to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) this morning calling for a province-wide investigation into sanitation at schools.

Given the billions of rands made available to fund Eastern Cape education every year, it is unacceptable that almost 1 in 5 of the 5664 public schools don’t have the most basic facilities.

In fact the Education Department had all the time and money in the world to eradicate these backlogs but instead wastes millions every year on maladministration, corruption and unfunded mandates.

This shocking neglect from the Education Department undermines the dignity of hundreds of thousands of children attending public schools in the Eastern Cape every day.

According to the reply, the Department claims that 173 schools “will receive sanitation this financial year”, with a further 913 to be serviced by the end of 2015.

These are promises we have all heard before from the Education Department, but it has never resulted in the action our learners need.

What we need now is a programme of action from the HRC to establish why in almost 20 years of governance 1049 schools still do not have toilets.

Only sustained public pressure on the Education Department will force them to do something about the impact this rights violation has on our children’s ability to study and learn.

Every child should be able to go to a public school with dignity and get a quality education. We call on the HRC to act on our request without delay.

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