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Basic Education commits to eradicating pit toilets in schools by 2025

Briefing the media on Sunday, Minister Angie Motshekga assured the public that the department is working around the clock to to build appropriate infrastructure at the country’s schools.

FILE: Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: @DBE_SA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN – The Department of Basic Education has committed to eradicating pit latrine toilets at schools by 2025.

Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga briefed the media on Sunday in Pretoria on developments in the basic education sector, including an update on infrastructure issues at schools.

In 2013, the department adopted the minimum uniform norms and standards for public school infrastructure which banned pit toilets at schools and created a legal responsibility for the department and provincial departments to eradicate them at schools.

However, it has since missed several of its deadlines.

In the latest incident, four-year-old Langalam Viki drowned in a pit latrine toilet in Vaalbank in Eastern Cape earlier this month.

Motshekga said the department has identified 3,398 schools countrywide with pit latrine toilets.

“When the president launched the SAFE [Sanitation Appropriate for Education] project, he also mobilised businesses to support government, we allocated 184 schools to them, and to date 117 schools have been completed.”

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Speaking to the circumstances surrounding the four-year-old’s death, Motshekga said she did not understand why old pit latrines in the school were not destroyed as the school received a new building with flushing toilets.

She also said the little boy being found in the tank of a senior toilet, instead of an age-appropriate one was cause for further questions.

However, she clarified that the department was not absolving itself of its responsibility in the matter, but these were questions the department was “interrogating”.

“It’s a very sad death for a young kid at four to be found at the tank of the pit latrines at the back of the toilets, and I don’t want to ask many questions to say why a child from the ECD (early childhood development) go to the senior part.”

She said these tragedies serve as a painful reminder that the upgrade to school infrastructure needs to be expedited.

She promised that the government was working around the clock to build appropriate infrastructure at the country’s schools.

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