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GDE misses school sanitation crisis deadline

The GDE missed the deadline it had set to deal with the sanitation crisis in township schools.

A toilet at the Nomsa Mapongwana Primary School in Khayelitsha. Picture: Carmel Loggenberg/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Equal Education says it hopes to receive a response from Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) MEC Panyaza Lesufi soon after he failed to meet Tuesday's deadline on the sanitation crisis in township schools throughout the province.

The deadline was set by the department to meet demands set by the organisation, including the provision of R350 million for the maintenance of schools.

While Lesufi has been unavailable to comment, Equal Education says it is simply asking that the department fulfill its commitment.

Spokesperson Adam Bradlow said they just want the MEC to stick to his promises and deliver the basic services to the affected schools.

"What he had promised to do was to set a standard for a number of students per toilet, to set a standard for a number of maintenance done per school.

"He had said that he needed R350 million to fix school sanitation and we had asked him that he fulfill his own request so that we could fix the sanitation crisis."

The organisation said Lesufi willingly accepted the demands, making a promise to fulfill the request.

On Monday Lesufi addressed a youth march in Soweto and vowed to improve the right to quality education in the province.

AUDIT

In May, Equal Education conducted a social audit that's shown on average, 100 pupils are made to share a single working toilet in Gauteng's township schools.

The education movement conducted research on 200,000 pupils in more than 200 schools across the province.

The areas include Tembisa, Atteridgeville, Alexandra and Meadowlands.

Equal Educations said its audit was carried out by 500 people, including pupils, teachers, parents and grandparents in the various townships across Gauteng.

The movement's Nombulelo Nyathela said they identified other problems.

"Over a 100 students share a single working toilet. There's no soap, toilet paper or sanitary facilities in these schools."

OTHER PROVINCES

In 2013, the Mail & Guardian reported a similar case in Limpopo where pupils were using pits to relive themselves.

Rights group Section27 went ahead to investigate the matter, revealing shocking results.

The Limpopo Education Department promised Section27 it would provide new toilets to 215 desperate schools.

But only one showed such signs of construction.

Reports further showed that pit toilets were still being used in 11,646 of the more than 23,000 schools nationwide.

Most of the schools that still use pit latrines are in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Moreover, 518 schools in KwaZulu-Natal also don't have access to electricity.