Prisoners might clean school toilets - MEC

2015-07-20 21:05

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Johannesburg - Prisoners might be employed to clean and help maintain toilets in Gauteng schools, education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said on Monday.

"It is one thing to fix them [school bathrooms] and not to maintain them. I am in advanced discussions with correctional services for prisoners [to clean them]," he told reporters in Soweto.

The department released a report on Monday on what has been done to rectify the sanitation issues at schools in Gauteng, following a damning audit by Equal Education (EE). 

The audit was conducted in March and April and looked at the condition of 200 township schools in Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Johannesburg, Sedibeng and the West Rand. The identified schools cater to about 200 000 pupils.

This represents about 10% of township schools in the province.

EE found that the condition of toilets in some Gauteng township schools is worse than in overcrowded prisons.

EE said earlier that according to the Wits Justice Project, 65 men share a single toilet at the "overcrowded" Johannesburg Medium A Prison.

"In [some of the audited schools], more than one hundred pupils share a single working toilet," EE's Tshepo Motsepe told reporters in May.

The audit also found that one in every five toilets in primary and secondary schools are locked or broken, while nearly 70% of pupils in the audited schools do not have soap in their bathrooms and nearly 40% do not have access to toilet paper and sanitary pads.

Solving sanitation problems

Lesufi said on Monday that he has committed to solving the sanitation problems.  

"The issue of sanitation was an issue that worried us. Especially after Equal Education went to over 200 of our schools." 

According to the report, the department identified 472 schools with sanitation problems in the province. 

"With the worst 50 of them, we committed to conclude [the work needed]. They have now been finalised and [the toilets] are ready to be used."

In terms of districts, Gauteng west had eight of the 50 worst schools.

The district with six of the worst was Gauteng east.

Schools in Gauteng north, Sedibeng east, Sedibeng west and Tshwane north are not featured on the "worst" list.

Two hundred other schools have contractors on site, while a further 222 identified schools still need work done.

He said that at the schools where work is already under way, this should be completed by August 17.

Work at the 222 schools will start at the end of July and conclude at the end of August.

Schools used for church

Lesufi said R750m has been set aside to deal specifically with sanitation at schools. 

"After I fix the toilets, the SGB [school governing body] takes control. They will have to buy their own soap, toilet paper and cleaning material."

He said if this is not done, he will dissolve the respective school's SGB, and ensure that another more capable one is elected.

Lesufi said a summit is needed with "all affected parties" to deal with the problem of sanitation at schools. 

"Eighty percent of schools are used by churches at the weekend."

He said political parties and other organisations hold meetings in schools at the weekend, while functions and events such as weddings and funerals are also held on school properties, sometimes because of a lack of adequate space.

Read more on:    panyaza lesufi  |  johannesburg  |  education

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