Gauteng school sanitation woes: four concerning findings

Following the release of their schools social audit findings, CapeTalk and 702’s Redi Tlhabi spoke with Equal Education’s (EE) national spokesperson Nombulelo Nyathela, and their junior organiser (who was the chief auditor of the social audit) Sfiso Mollo.

In March and April, EE and a Gauteng -wide coalition conducted a social audit on the school conditions of 200 000 students in more than 200 schools in over 20 different communities in Gauteng.

Here are four of their major findings:

1. Over 100 students per toilet: At about 30 percent of high schools they audited, more than 100 students share a single working toilet. By comparison, according to the Wits Justice Project, 65 men share a single toilet at the unacceptably overcrowded Johannesburg Medium A prison.

2. Broken toilets: One out of every five school toilets in Gauteng are locked or broken.

When we went on the ground we found that most of the toilets in the schools were locked, blocked or clogged because there is not enough maintenance staff. So, if the toilets are not being maintained, they are bound to be broken. Also, if learners don’t have access to toilet paper and use other materials, the toilets become clogged. One of the worst schools we found was Steve Biko Primary School in Orange Farm.

Sfiso Mollo., Equal Education organiser

3. No soap, toilet paper or sanitary pads: Nearly 70 percent of students do not have soap in their schools while more than 40 percent of students do not have any access to toilet paper or sanitary pads in their schools. This problem is particularly acute in secondary schools, where funds are stretched in overcrowded schools.

4. Not enough maintenance staff: Over a quarter of schools have over 400 students for a single maintenance staff member. Maintenance staff members are overwhelmed at schools.

School infrastructure directly affects learner outcomes

Despite greater distinctions between urban and rural schools, Nyathela says that there is a causal link between pupil comfort and their academic performance.

All schools in Gauteng have access to water and electricity, whereas if you look at our rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and in the Eastern Cape (EC), there are many schools that don’t have access to those basic services. Those are the distinctions, and of course , the scales are much larger in rural areas. In Gauteng we are speaking about sanitation as a prominent problem in schools that actually have buildings, whereas if you got to other rural areas, you will find very inadequate infrastructure, mud and shack schools. So in Gauteng, they are talking about toilets that are not broken, flush and have running water. Whereas, KZN, the EC and Limpopo there are pit latrines. Either way though, it is still inadequate infrastructure for these learners, and there are still too many learners that are studying under horrible conditions.

Plans not yet in place for respective provinces

The audit represents the next step in EE’s Gauteng School Sanitation Campaign and its Michael Komape Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure Implementation Campaign, named after Michael Komape, the name of the six-year old, Grade R learner from Chebeng Village, Limpopo who died when he fell into a pit latrine toilet at his school in January 2014.

The Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure is a law that EE won in November 2013 and it sets out binding time frames and standards for items like water, sanitation, electricity, libraries, laboratories and other essential physical infrastructure for schools. However, these targets and deadlines have not been set by the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, according to Nyathela.

Also read our article: 'I feel deeply embarrassed, I'll fix it'- MEC Lesufi on Gauteng school toilets.

Listen to the full conversation on the Redi Tlhabi show:


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI
Read More
[LISTEN] #NakedScientist: Very first lab-grown oesophagus implanted in mice

[LISTEN] #NakedScientist: Very first lab-grown oesophagus implanted in mice

Experiment will hopefully lead to clinical trials of food pipes for kids born with part of their oesophagus damaged or missing.

[LISTEN] Callers share how they beat the odds to achieve academic excellence

[LISTEN] Callers share how they beat the odds to achieve academic excellence

Callers share how they overcame difficult situations to get an education.

Is the ANCYL still relevant and who is likely to take over the leadership reins?

Is the ANCYL still relevant and who is likely to take over the leadership reins?

Former ANCYL spokesperson and eNCA political reporter Samkele Maseko discuss who is up for the new ANCYL leadership.

Do we need yet another Commission of Inquiry?

Do we need yet another Commission of Inquiry?

Callers weigh in on whether South Africa needs another commission of Inquiry.

Facing retrenchment? Here's how your employer is meant to handle it

Facing retrenchment? Here's how your employer is meant to handle it

The law requires an employer to give an employee a notice and conduct consultations when they contemplate retrenchments.

'I feel deeply embarrassed, I'll fix it' - MEC Lesufi on Gauteng school toilets

'I feel deeply embarrassed, I'll fix it' - MEC Lesufi on Gauteng school toilets

Some of the horrific toilet conditions that learners have to endure in schools have been linked to budget:is there more to this?

Popular articles
How to pay up to 45% less tax (and save the SA economy while you’re at it)

How to pay up to 45% less tax (and save the SA economy while you’re at it)

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Darryn Faulds, a fund manager at Grovest Group.

10-year-old maths whiz Sbahle Zwane gets a scholarship from Curro school

10-year-old maths whiz Sbahle Zwane gets a scholarship from Curro school

Azania Mosaka catches up with Sbahle Zwane's mother to hear about developments with his schooling.

Is the ANCYL still relevant and who is likely to take over the leadership reins?

Is the ANCYL still relevant and who is likely to take over the leadership reins?

Former ANCYL spokesperson and eNCA political reporter Samkele Maseko discuss who is up for the new ANCYL leadership.

'It's unacceptable that government officials pay R75 for luxury apartments'

'It's unacceptable that government officials pay R75 for luxury apartments'

IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa says the party is calling for a review of these rates that are a cost to taxpayers.

[WATCH] Sars boss confusing, evasive testimony at Nugent Commission

[WATCH] Sars boss confusing, evasive testimony at Nugent Commission

Khabazela shares some of the most popular tweets, posts, and videos on 'What's gone viral'.

Getting drunk improves creative problem solving - Harvard Business School

Getting drunk improves creative problem solving - Harvard Business School

Bruce Whitfield asks branding and advertising expert Andy Rice about a peculiar study that has creatives reaching for the tequila.