Learners at a school in Limpopo are currently confronted with a pressing health hazard due to the deteriorated and unsanitary conditions of the toilets they are compelled to use daily.
They say the provincial education authorities responsible for addressing this matter have exhibited a lack of urgency and have been slow to take appropriate action.
The situation at Rivubye High School in Valdezia near Makhado has garnered significant attention from many stakeholders, including parental associations and opposition politicians who want Limpopo Education MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya to address the matter at hand promptly.
The National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) general secretary Matakanye Matakanye says Lerule-Ramakhanya has no choice but to act.
“The MEC of education should immediately address the matter of the pit toilets, not only at the school that we are talking about, but every school in the province. We cannot tolerate this situation anymore. Delays in the construction are disadvantageous to our right to children’s quality education. This has to stop urgently,” said Matakanye.
Concerned parents have expressed apprehension regarding the inadequate sanitation facilities at Rivubye High School.
One of them, who requested anonymity, said the situation poses a risk to the health and well-being of their children, who are highly susceptible to contracting various diseases as a consequence.
“We are happy that our situation has attracted politicians and members of the media. This affords all concerned the opportunity to firsthand witness the concerns we have been vocalising without any intervention,” said the parent.
Other concerned parents asked whether Lerule-Ramakhanya would be at ease if her own children or family members were to enroll in a school no toilet doors, necessitating children to shield one another when using the facilities.
The ablution facilities at Rivubye High School, which play a crucial role in upholding standards of hygiene and sanitation, added the aggrieved parents.
According to Katlego Phala, the spokesperson for the Democratic Alliance in Limpopo, the school in question currently accommodates a total of 809 enrolled learners. However, the school’s infrastructure is inadequate, as it possesses only four dilapidated toilet blocks.
“The school is still heavily dependent on pit toilets and some of the toilets have a damaged roof that leaks during the rainy season and the lack of basins for handwashing poses a health risk to learners.
“The school has not received any real assistance from the department and are seemingly told year after year to use their norms and standards funds to improve sanitation at the school and remove pit toilets. These funds are inadequate and must also be used for other responsibilities around the school,” Phala said.
In April this year, members of Equal Education, a group advocating for a conducive learning environment in schools protested to the offices of Limpopo department of education demanding the complete eradication of pit toilets.
Limpopo provincial education department spokesperson Mike Maringa admitted that Rivubye High School was not prioritised before. However, he said they would change that immediately.
“We have sent our infrastructure guys, and it is indeed correct that the school was not listed among those that needed urgent attention. It was not consolidated with the rest. We are saying it should have been.
“We are taking a decision right now to quickly make sure that the school gets attention. We will be sending the name to one of our implementing agents to start working on the project,” said Maringa.