Education Dept to hold urgent meeting with provincial leaders on pit toilets

The Department of Basic Education says small children should not be unaccompanied when using dangerous pit toilets at schools.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Basic Education has heeded President Cyril Ramphosa's call to eradicate pit toilets at schools across the country.

Ramaphosa gave the instruction following the death of five-year-old Viwe Jali who drowned in a pit toilet at a primary school in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape last week.

The Department of Basic Education says small children should not be unaccompanied when using dangerous pit toilets at schools.

Department spokesperson Troy Martens says the challenge in the particular case involving little Jali was that a petite five-year-old child was using a pit latrine that was much too big to accommodate her.

“We would urge, especially for our grade R learners and grade one learners, that they do not go to the toilet unassisted in these types of circumstances.”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has called for an urgent meeting with provincial education departments to discuss issues around school infrastructure.

This after President Ramaphosa last week instructed Motshekga that she has a month to deliver an audit on school sanitation and three months to roll out proper infrastructure.

According to a recent report by the National Education Infrastructure Management System, the Eastern Cape has just under 2,000 schools with plain pit toilets and more than two and a half thousand with ventilated pit latrines.

The Western Cape Education Department has, however, confirmed there are no pit toilets at any schools in this province.