Nearly 4 000 pit latrines in South Africa's schools

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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
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  • According to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga there are close to 4 000 pit latrines in public schools.
  • There are 3 500 schools with water supply challenges, says Motshekga
  • The department plans to eradicate pit latrines by 2022.


Close to 4 000 South African public schools still use pit latrines and, so far, a government infrastructure programme has provided "sanitation solutions" at 68 of these schools.

Sanitation issues at close to 1 000 schools have also been addressed by provincial education departments and through other partnerships.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga revealed this in response to a written parliamentary question from EFF MP Ngwanamakwetle Mashabela who wanted details pertaining to school infrastructure and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Mashabela also wanted to know by what date the department would ensure that not a single school was without basic necessities.

Motshekga responded: "It is true that several schools have challenges related to water supply and sanitation. The Department of Basic Education is working with the various provincial departments of education, Rand Water and the water boards to address such challenges."

READ | Here's when the school year will end: Education dept releases revised calendar dates

Motshekga said the department planned to eradicate pit latrines by 2022.

"It is also correct that the provincial departments of education identified more than 3 800 schools that rely on basic pit toilets. Again, the Department of Basic Education is working with the various provincial departments of education to address such challenges. Sanitation solutions have been implemented at 68 of these schools under the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) programme," she said.

The ASIDI programme aims to eradicate the basic safety norms backlog in schools without water, sanitation and electricity.

It also aimed to replace schools constructed from inappropriate material like mud, "plankies" and asbestos.

"The provincial departments of education have addressed the needs at a further 834 schools. Several partnerships contributed to solve the challenge at another 103 schools. The Department of Basic Education appointed four different implementing agents to address a further 1 121 schools. These implementing agents are in varying stages of completion of the sanitation solutions. The current plan is to eradicate the basic pit toilets by March 2022. This is, however, dependent on the availability of funding for this purpose," Motshekga said.

In 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative in an attempt to rid schools of pit latrines.

Last year Motshekga said National Treasury allocated a total of R3.4bn to the SAFE initiative over the 2019 medium-term expenditure framework.

The private sector had already pledged R256m to date.

READ ALSO | Lockdown: Education dept pays Rand Water R200m to supply emergency water to struggling schools

In respect of water challenges, Motshekga said provincial departments identified about 3 500 schools with water supply challenges. 

"The department contracted Rand Water to implement an emergency water supply programme. The adopted solution was water delivery to on-site storage tanks at these schools.  Some schools had existing on-site storage tanks, while 2 274 schools required such tanks," Motshekga said.

She said on 17 July, on-site storage tanks had been installed at these schools that required tanks. 

"Provincial departments reported that all schools identified with water challenges now have water. The planning and implementation of permanent solutions are part of the ongoing capital programmes of the provincial departments. The date for the implementation of the permanent solutions is dependent on the availability of funding," she said.

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