Ricochet News

'East London learners subjected to undignified conditions for far too long'

Jun 7, 2018
'East London learners subjected to undignified conditions for far too long'

DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi MP, and Buffalo City Coastal Constituency Leader, Kevin Mileham MP, visited Khayelitsha Primary School in East London, where learners use pit toilets and discussed sanitation backlogs and related issues with staff members.

"The DA has been visiting schools across the country to raise awareness about the health and safety threats that learners are exposed to on a daily basis as a result of using pit toilets. After more than two decades into democracy and several children dying in pit latrines, the ANC government still has not provided suitable alternatives for these learners and this demands immediate attention," explained Marchesi.

"The learners at Khayelitsha Primary School have no choice but to use the unsanitary toilets and this robs them of their dignity. There are also Grade R learners using the latrines and they are at risk of falling into the pits as the toilets are not suitable for their age.

"Community members also use the toilets and this puts children at risk of getting physically and sexually assaulted."

Marchesi  said that, in addition, the school’s roof is also falling apart and there is no fencing.

"This lack of infrastructure undermines learner safety and is simply unacceptable.

"The Department of Basic Education should have made substantial progress by now in eradicating pit toilets and building safer ones for learners as funding was available," she said.

"Instead, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a massive cut of R7.2 billion to the school infrastructure budget in February, which is almost as much money that is needed to ensure no learner ever has to use a pit latrine again."

Marchesi said that the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) inability to meet its own Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) targets yet again proves that the ANC government cannot be trusted to keep learners safe and secure the bright futures that they deserve.

"The DBE told the Basic Education Portfolio Committee on Tuesday that only 70 schools out of 344 were provided with water, while 45 out of 257 were provided with sanitation this year.

"Our learners deserve to learn in a safe environment that will allow them to reach their full potential and ultimately to get jobs, especially now that our economy has contracted by 2.2%," she added.

"One of the most effective ways to solve the unemployment crisis is to ensure that our schools are safe and in a position to prepare learners for the job market."