By Jane Sithole MPL, DA Spokesperson on Education:
The DA conducted oversight visits to several schools in the Nkomazi Municipality and was horrified to discover the extremely low standard of sanitation prevalent throughout.
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Taking Legislature to the people (TLP) is taking place in Nkomazi this week. It is worrying that the Legislature failed to schedule a single visit to schools in Nkomazi during the pre-TLP as well as during this TLP week. This in itself validates the DA’s stance that water and sanitation provision to schools is not high on the list of Mpumalanga’s Department of Education priorities.
The sad reality of this situation is that during Tuesday’s session of the TLP sitting, the ANC defeated the DA’s motion to compel the MEC to prioritise water and sanitation in schools. The budget allocation for this is R241 000 000 in this financial year. By defeating this motion the ANC ultimately rejected the MEC’s budget which was approved in May this year by the very same House.
According to the Government Gazette of 12 September 2013 the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga said, “All schools must have access to sufficient water supply which complies with all relevant laws for drinking and personal hygiene.”
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All the toilets at the schools that we visited had no doors, no toilet paper, no basins for hygiene and an average of more than 80 learners per toilet. This does not comply with the norms and standards as per the above Gazette. The Mpumalanga Government is obviously not heeding the Minister’s call.
The current situation in schools does not only compromise the learning environment but poses a tremendous health risk as well. In tomorrow’s TLP sitting, the MEC for Education, Reginah Mhaule will be answering the DA’s questions regarding the water and sanitation crisis in schools, and we can only hope that the MEC will treat this matter with the urgency it deserves.