340 000 EC learners go to school without proper toilets

Edmund van Vuuren MPL

Shadow MEC for Education

Data obtained by the DA reveals that a total of 340 000 Eastern Cape learners attend a school without proper toilets every day, and in some cases there are no toilets at all.

This is according to data obtained by the Democratic Alliance from the Education Department in the process of our Human Rights Commission complaint into school sanitation.

The HRC has thanked the DA for submitting this information as it will assist in their investigation into rights abuses in schools.

Official Education Department data pins the number of schools without proper sanitation at 1098, higher than the original 1049 schools stated in MEC Mandla Makhupula’s parliamentary reply to the DA.

The total cost of the toilet backlog in Eastern Cape schools is R380 million.

The DA will call for an urgent meeting of the legislature’s Education Committee.

We want to discuss changes to the Education Department budget to accommodate the R380 million backlog to restore the dignity of these learners without delay.

This is a human rights violation on an unprecedented scale.

Some schools like Chris Hani Public School in Lady Frere require as many as 44 toilets for their 1160 learners.

The most affected districts are also the most disadvantaged – with Lusikisiki (111 schools) and Mount Frere (215 schools) facing severe crises in sanitation.

While schools in Port Elizabeth and East London do have sanitation facilities, they are in such a poor condition in many cases that toilets cannot be used. I saw this first hand on my inspections at Greenville Primary School in Port Elizabeth and Kayser’s Beach Primary in East London.

At the very least the Department has done an assessment of the costing, so they cannot claim that they are not aware of the scale of the problem.

Billions are made available to fund Eastern Cape education every year and there is no reason why these backlogs could not have been addressed up until now.

Instead millions are wasted every year on maladministration while the dignity of hundreds of thousands of children in the Eastern Cape is undermined on a daily basis.

Every child should be able to go to a public school with dignity and get a quality education. We trust that the portfolio committee will urgently meet to discuss this matter.