Batlile Phaladi
2 minute read
10 Jul 2015
6:00 am

Concern over school toilet upgrade

Batlile Phaladi

With two weeks left for the Gauteng Education Department to meet the deadline for fixing toilets in 51 schools around the province, Equal Education (EE) still raised concerns over the progress in the constructions of the toilets as "the department ignored its request to reveal the list of the demarcated schools".

Picture: Thinkstock

The non-governmental organisation said it was difficult for it to check the progress but EE would continue to monitor sanitation conditions in some of the schools concerned.

EE general secretary Tshepo Motsepe said the organisation was also in the dark on how far contractors appointed by the provincial department are in building the toilets.

“First of all, we do not even have the list, the department has given us the cold shoulder every time we asked for the list of those schools. The MEC acknowledged the fact that most toilets at the schools across the province were really broken and committed to start new foundations to rebuild them but now. It is difficult for us to check if these toilets are being built in the agreed norms and standards of the sanitation,”said Motsepe.

This, after EE conducted an audit in March and April this year. The audit found that more than 25% of the schools surveyed have more than 400 pupils for every maintenance staff member, and one in five toilets was either broken or locked.

It also revealed that in 30% of the high schools audited, more than 100 pupils shared one working toilet, 70% of schools had no access to soap, and 40% had no access to either toilet paper or sanitary pads.

After the audit, the organisation challenged Lesufi to, among other things, establish a Gauteng-appropriate standard and ratio for sanitation, provide a model budget for schools, and publicly begin blacklisting contractors who under-perform.

Lesufi accepted the challenge and agreeing fixing the toilets during schools holidays to avoid disrupting learning.

The MEC’s spokesperson, Phumla Sekhonyane, reiterated the department’s commitment to the provision of proper sanitation at all schools.

However, when The Citizen visited Roodepoort Primary School in Davidsonville on Wednesday, which Sekhonyane confirmed to be among the schools being refurbished, we found that the toilets were still in dire condition.

The toilets were not flushing, they are rusty and learners have to use buckets to flush after using the toilet.

Sekhonyane said: “Indeed, Roodepoort Primary is in the list of schools whose toilets need to be fixed, and we have already appointed the contractor.”

The toilets in the 51 schools are expected to be completed by July 20 when schools re-open.