Bittersweet return to school for Limpopo pupils

Pupils say they’re happy to have textbooks this year but expected more from the education department.

A toilet at a Limpopo school. Picture: Tara Meany/EWN.

POLOKWANE - The Limpopo Department of Education has come under fire for failing to spend money on sanitation, with claims that pupils have to carry the burden for bureaucracy and a lack of political will.

In the latest auditor general's report released last year, it emerged the department had returned almost R1.7 billion to Treasury.

Schools opened on Wednesday and many still don't have the required ablution facilities.

It's been a bittersweet return to school for pupils in rural Limpopo who say while they're grateful to have textbooks this year, they're once again disappointed by the dismal state of sanitation at their schools.

Pupils in Giyani say they're happy to have textbooks this year but expected more from the Department of Education.

"We feel like the government doesn't care anymore because our toilets are in the bush".

The department says it's identified over 170 priority schools, which are receiving urgent attention.

Democratic Alliance provincial leader Jacques Smalle says based on the latest auditor-general's report, the provincial education department cannot plead poverty anymore.

He said other provinces are now cashing in on Limpopo's mismanagement.

"When a province like Limpopo doesn't plan and is unable to manage its own affairs, it forfeits the money to national Treasury which then gives the money to other provinces."

However, the department says the money returned to Treasury was the result of cost containment measures put in place as part of the provincial recovery plan.