Eastern Cape pupils march to education department, demand basic infrastructure at schools

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Eastern Cape learners marched to the education department demanding a progress report on reaching basic norms and standards for school infrastructure. (Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik, GroundUp)
Eastern Cape learners marched to the education department demanding a progress report on reaching basic norms and standards for school infrastructure. (Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik, GroundUp)

More than 200 pupils from different public schools in King William's Town marched to the offices of the Eastern Cape Department of Education in Zwelitsha on Thursday.

Led by Equal Education, they demanded that the department release its progress report on reaching norms and standards for school infrastructure, GroundUp has reported.

In November 2016 the department failed to meet its deadline to ensure that school structures are made of appropriate materials – not mud, asbestos, metal or wood – and that all schools have water, electricity and toilets.

The new deadline is November 29, 2020, but the protesting pupils say progress has been very slow and they fear the department will not meet the deadline.

Charles Morgan School student leader Yolanda Nazo said the school received temporary toilets after pupils protested outside the department in June. It was meant to be for two months while the department fixed the blocked flushed toilets at the school. This never happened, according to Nazo.

"Those toilets cost the department …. that money should have been used to fix the blocked toilets at school," said Nazo.

Lihle Kolosi of Thembalabantu Senior Secondary School in Zwelitsha said her school was short of classrooms and furniture. Lithalethu Valisi of Zanempucuko High School said parents of pupils at their school donated building materials, but the school lacked toilets and water.

Equal Education resubmitted four memorandums it had previously submitted between 2015 and 2018. The memorandums were handed to Monde Sangqu, director stakeholder management, who promised to pass them on to MEC Fundile Gade.

Spokesperson for the department, Malibongwe Mtima, said: "The backlog report will be properly announced at the time. All data has been verified in time for the report for the November 2020 anniversary and annually as required."

He said the department "values the engagement with Equal Education".

Mtima quoted severe budgetary restrictions. He said the province had a sanitation backlog requiring R2.5bn alone.

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