Equal Education is dismayed by the statement of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, following the meeting of the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) on 22 March 2018.
If South Africans are to believe in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “new dawn”, then government must adhere to the school infrastructure law, and the deadlines that it stipulates. Click here to read the Regulations Relating to Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure.
It is outrageous that, in 2018, there is still a need to audit the status of sanitation at our schools. Or is this another delay tactic?
Since 29 November 2013, Minister Motshekga has been bound by a law, which she adopted, which details the infrastructure standards for each school. The law, the Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure, sets out deadlines for fixing infrastructure in schools. It says that by 29 November 2016, schools must have been provided with access to water, electricity and decent sanitation. By that same date, all schools built entirely from inappropriate materials (mud, asbestos, wood) ought to have been eradicated. The law explicitly says that plain pit latrines are not allowed at schools.
Despite this, less than two months after the law came into existence, 5-year-old Michael Komape drowned in a dilapidated pit latrine at his school in Chebeng Village, Limpopo.
This tragedy was not enough to spur Minister Motshekga and the MECs into action.
Instead of conducting a toilet audit then, and properly preparing to meet the deadlines in the Norms and Standards law, the education MECs released infrastructure reports that brazenly stated that the deadlines stipulated by the law would not be met. These infrastructure reports were only made public after six months of EE members publicly campaigning for their release, and only after we sent the Department of Basic Education requests in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). In its report, the Eastern Cape Department of Education admitted that it did not have a grasp on the extent of its infrastructure backlog.