Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says she is confident that her department will eradicate the remaining 3 898 pit latrines in the country's schools "within the next three years".
To date, 787 schools have been provided with appropriate sanitation facilities, with construction at 841 schools either in the planning, design or building phases.
Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative in an attempt to rid schools of pit latrines.
In March last year, Lumka Mkhethwa, 5, drowned in a pit latrine. Four years ago, Michael Komape, 5, died in a pit latrine.
Motshekga lauded her department, saying it was important to keep in mind that the eradication of pit latrines did not start with the launch of the SAFE initiative, but started in 2000 and since then "10 621 schools have been provided with sanitation".
"Many of those that remain are those with particular requirements, for example no water-borne sewerage systems and they require alternative sanitation technology."
- At this school, pupils are forced to borrow a broken toilet seat from teachers to put on holes used as toilets
- Learners use field as toilet: 'Our children are not safe', says worried mom
- Girl’s pit toilet death reveals sad state of school sanitation - NGOs
- Basic education dept was warned of 'sinking' toilets 10 years ago, Limpopo court hears
R3.4bn for SAFE initiative
The minister added that the department was working with other departments to find the most sustainable solutions for these schools.
During his 2019 budget speech, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said he had been given a directive from the president to ensure that all schools have safe and appropriate sanitation.
"Nobody should learn in a school that is unsafe. Our children must have access to adequate sanitation," said Mboweni.
According to Motshekga, National Treasury has allocated a total of R3.4bn to the SAFE initiative over the 2019 medium-term expenditure framework. The private sector has already pledged R256m to date.
"The SAFE initiative will be delivered through an integrated delivery model, led by the DBE (Department of Basic Education) and working with and through the provincial education departments and partnering with sister departments, such as the national and provincial treasuries, the Department of Water and Sanitation and the national and provincial departments of public works," said Motshekga.
Motshekga also said her department had identified clear time frames and delivery models "to ensure that while we are delivering sanitation infrastructure, this will also benefit local small businesses".
"We are confident that within the next three years we would have eradicated the remaining 3 898 pit latrines in schools," added Motshekga.