Limpopo principals fear speaking out against govt

Principals say exposing issues could risk both current and future infrastructure projects at their schools.

FILE: Principals at rural schools in Limpopo say they can’t speak out about textbook shortages and sanitation because doing so could jeopardise delivery. Picture: Tara Meaney/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Principals at rural schools in Limpopo say they can't speak out about textbook shortages and sanitation because doing so could jeopardise delivery.

Eyewitness News has visited several schools in the province, but principals have refused to be named or speak on the record, saying they don't want to risk a backlash from the Department of Education.

Principals in Limpopo say exposing issues could risk both current and future infrastructure projects at their schools.

Democratic Alliance (DA) provincial leader Jacques Smalle says principals learned their lesson during the textbook scandal.

"Where principals have actually spoken out, action was actually taken against them and some of them were put on a disciplinary hearing."

The department's Paena Galane says principals may only speak to the media when they are given permission but it's wrong to claim they risk a backlash.

"That won't happen. We have a list and each and every school is prioritised according to each need."

The teachers have told Eyewitness News that speaking to the media is too risky and doing so would only further disadvantage pupils.

On Thursday, Limpopo pupils described their disappointment after discovering that toilets promised to them last year have still not been built.

Thousands of pupils in rural areas have once again started the school year with little or no sanitation.

Some pupils at Hlovani Secondary were visibly disappointed after being told they'll have to continue using the bush as their toilet for the foreseeable future.

"I feel so bad because there are no toilets, we have to use the bush, and it's so uncomfortable"

Construction started on two blocks of toilets in March last year but the site has been gathering dust ever since.

The provincial education department says it's fast tracking sanitation and is hoping to have all projects completed by the end of the financial year.

Last year, a five-year-old boy at the Mahlodinela Primary School, in Limpopo died after falling into a pit toilet.

The body of the grade 0 pupil was discovered in a toilet near his classroom several hours after he was reported missing.

More than 4,000 schools in the province have had to go without proper toilets and sanitation for the past two years, despite promises by the department that the issues would be dealt with.