Schools fail to open due to lack of sanitation facilities

Issued by Yusuf Cassim, MPL
Shadow MEC for Education

At least 72 schools in the province were unable to open at the beginning of the week, due to a lack of safe and appropriate sanitation.

It is unfathomable that the Department does not prioritise the dignity of the learners of this province. Human dignity lies at the heart of a capable and caring state.

I will be reporting the Department to the Human Rights Commission as they are denying children their constitutional right to education.

The information relating to the lack of sanitation was revealed by the Eastern Cape Education Department in a report to the Portfolio Committee.

The report indicated that there were at least 100 schools in the province which require urgent sanitation, and of these 72 could not start the academic year due to lack of proper sanitation.

It is important to note that the schools listed are only those that form part of the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative.

There are in fact 1598 schools that have been identified as having inappropriate and unsafe sanitation in the province.

Of these, only 979 schools were provided with temporary, leased mobile toilets in 2020, but these leases have not been extended to supply toilets in 2021.

I have tabled questions to the MEC to elicit further information in this regard and for the department to account as to why so many schools are without these needed facilities, even after the start of the 2021 academic year was pushed to a later date.

The Department of Education must start taking responsibility for its shortfalls instead of trying to paint a perfect picture while the learners, teachers and staff at schools are suffering.