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Section 27: School sanitation must become a bigger priority

The organisation says poor sanitation in schools affect both the physical & academic well-being of pupils.

Broken toilets lie outside a Soweto school on 29 April 2013. The school was supposed to have their bathroom facilities built by the Basic Education department by the end of 2012. Picture:Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Rights group Section 27 says there's an urgent need for school sanitation to become a bigger priority because it affects both the physical well-being of pupils and their academics.

The organisation says poor sanitation often impacts the academic progress of female pupils specifically who opt to stay home when they are menstruating to avoid using filthy toilet facilities.

This week the Sowetan exposed shocking toilet conditions at some township schools in Gauteng.

Missing cubicle doors, no toilet paper and in some cases, no water, are just some of the issues faced by many pupils.

Section 27 says both schools and government have the responsibility to ensure that adequate infrastructure is in place.

The organistaion's Kate Paterson says, "I think it's a dual responsibility. The initial infrastructure must be set up by the provincial Department of Education but then maintenance is actually the responsibility of the school. Schools should be given funding, which should be ring sensed for sanitation purposes."