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Ramaphosa launches school sanitation initiative to remove pit toilets

The Basic Education Department says most of the affected schools are in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the launch the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) Initiative at the Sheraton Hotel, Pretoria. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The Basic Education Department says over 3,000 schools still use pit toilets in South Africa or have no sanitation at all.

It says most of the affected schools are in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has launched a new Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) Initiative between the government and private sector, which aims to fast-track the eradication of pit toilets in the country’s schools.

Ramaphosa says with a cash injection from the private sector, pupils will be spared the dangers of using pit toilets.

“But today is also a day when we demonstrate solidarity. Solidarity of how various partners can get to together and respond to a national need, an urgent need.”

Ramaphosa says it is a tragedy that this initiative was sparked by the deaths of innocent children.

“It reminds us that we must focus all our attention not on what we have achieved, but on what we have not achieved.”

Over R100 million in pledges was raised at the launch of the sanitation appropriate for the education project.

LISTEN: Ramaphosa launches SAFE initiative to eradicate pit toilets in SA schools

‘SAFE INITIATIVE IS IRONIC’

Equal Education has described the government’s newly launched SAFE sanitation initiative as ironic.

In July, the High Court in Bisho found that the Basic Education Department’s indefinite delay in fixing unsafe and inadequate infrastructure at schools was unconstitutional and invalid.

However, the department plans on appealing that judgement.

Three women held a silent protest during Ramaphosa’s address at the launch of the SAFE initiative.

The women demanded answers on why the government was appealing the ruling that found loopholes in its Norms and Standards Policy.

Equal Education’s Hopolang Selebalo says: “How do we appeal a judgement like that? And then come here and talk about the dire state of school infrastructure and the need to eradicate pit toilets.”

The Education Department has come under fire over the past number of years for its delay in providing proper infrastructure at schools in the wake of the deaths of five-year-olds Michael Komape in 2014, and recently Lumko Mkhethwa.

They both drowned in pit toilets at their school.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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