The sanitation crisis at schools in Tembisa has continued unabated despite Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi’s July promise to fix all school toilets in Gauteng by 31 August, 100 days after he took office. On 13 September, Equal Education (EE) members from Tembisa, Kwa Thema and Daveyton will therefore be marching to the MEC’s office in Johannesburg to demand decent and dignified sanitation in their schools.
Equal Education’s audit of school toilets from 1 September – 3 September 2014 identified over 200 blocked or closed toilets in Tembisa alone. This includes 50 toilets housed in 10 new pre-fabricated toilet blocks, which the Gauteng Department of Education delivered to 5 Tembisa high schools in January. Equal Education first raised the fact that these pre-fabricated toilets blocks were closed with MEC Lesufi in a meeting on 8 June (see letter), and despite committing himself to resolving the situation, the toilets remain closed. EE then wrote another letter to the MEC alerting him that the toilets were still closed even post the meeting on the 8th of July but this was to no avail.
Equal Education started its sanitation campaign almost one year ago after learner members in Tembisa identified sanitation as one of the problems that negatively affected their education. Our comprehensive audit of 11 secondary schools in Tembisa, conducted in August and September 2013, revealed that it at over half of the schools surveyed more than 100 boys or girls had to share a single working toilet. According to the Wits Justice Project, 65 men share a single toilet at the unacceptably overcrowded Johannesburg Medium A prison. By comparison this means that the school toilets in Tembisa are worse than those in an overcrowded prison.
As Equal Education we are demanding that the MEC opens the prefabricated toilets immediately. These toilets are of no use to anyone closed. Their continued closure compromises learners’ right to education, health, safety and dignity.
In addition, we demand a comprehensive plan to permanently address the sanitation crisis in Tembisa and other schools in Gauteng. The plan should define a standard for the quality of sanitation in each school; provide a timeline for ensuring all schools reach this standard; and include accountability measures so we know how much government is spending and which private companies are meant to fix or replace our toilets.
Since the beginning of this year, EE members in Tembisa have cleaned and painted toilets at 8 schoos, and have run workshops on the importance of proper sanitation for 5 000 fellow classmates. Just as community members are doing their part, so too must government.
The march will start at 11am , Beyers Naude. EE will be delivering a memorandum of demands to MEC Lesufi outside the Gauteng Department of Education (111 Commissioner Street, Johannesburg). MEC Lesufi’s office has acknowledged receipt of our letter about the march and will be present to accept our memorandum.
For more information contact:
Tshepo Motsepe, Co-Head: Equal Education Gauteng
071 886 5637
Adam Bradlow, Co-Head: Equal Education Gauteng
072 347 3027
Nombulelo Nyathela, EE spokesperson
060 503 4933