South African schools have faced issues regarding appropriate sanitation facilities for many years and this has sometimes resulted in learners unfortunately losing their lives due to inappropriate sanitation facilities, like pit toilets.
The Basic Education Department has now released a statement detailing the progress they have made in efforts to improve sanitation at schools. The department together with provincial education departments through the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative worked to replace pit toilets with appropriate sanitation for schools around the country.
Provincial Education Departments originally reported that 3 898 schools were dependent on pit toilets. However this number has changed since the start of the initiative after some schools were assessed and deemed to have appropriate sanitation. The department says that the initiative now involves 2 753 schools.
The progress of the different projects across provinces are as follows:
- Eastern Cape : 1 098 schools recorded with pit toilets and 178 have been replaced.
- Free State: 122 schools recorded with pit toilets and 75 have been replaced.
- KwaZulu Natal: 974 schools recorded with pit toilets and 379 have been replaced
- Limpopo: 387 schools recorded with pit toilets and 118 have been replaced.
- Mpumalanga: 117 schools recorded with pit toilets and 116 have been replaced.
- North West: 55 schools recorded with pit toilets and 37 have been replaced.
"The Department has since stepped up the monitoring of the projects to ensure that they are completed on time, to specifications and on budget," the statement read.
Director-General of Basic Education, Mathanzima Mweli has visited more than 500 school construction sites since March 2021 to ensure that the delivery of the much-needed infrastructure is accelerated. The department says that monitoring the sites has assisted them in unblocking challenges and resolving issues that have caused delay to the building process.
Mweli says that he will monitor the processes until the very last school is given appropriate sanitation facilities, as he says the monitoring function has pushed the processes along "and we are sure to hit our target even before the end of the current financial year."
"We have improved the standard of reporting and the progress is satisfactory. Under-performing implementing agents have been warned that there will be consequences for poor delivery," said Mweli.
The SAFE programme is funded from the School Infrastructure Backlog Grant. The total grant budget for 2021/2022 is R2 283 564 000 and only 50% of this budget is allocated to the SAFE programme.
As at 3 August, the reported expenditure on SAFE was R313 439 674.
[MEDIA STATEMENT] the department is making progress in replacing pit toilets through the SAFE initiative. @ElijahMhlanga @ReginahMhaule @HubertMweli#Schoolinfrastructure pic.twitter.com/r2SdyKpNQO
— Dep. Basic Education (@DBE_SA) August 5, 2021