At the Schools Social Audit Summit in Soweto on Saturday, 16 May, Equal Education (EE) presented MEC Lesufi with the full text of our Schools Social Audit Report. We are now publicly releasing the full report for the first time. [Full Text] [Exec Summary]
The report — which covers the learning conditions of 200,000 students in more than 200 schools in over 20 communities around Gauteng, or about 10% of township schools — found a sanitation crisis:
- Over 100 students per working toilet: At about 30% of high schools, more than 100 students share a single working toilet.
- Broken toilets: One out of every five toilets in primary and secondary schools are locked or broken.
- No soap, toilet paper or sanitary pads: Nearly 70% of students do not have soap in their schools while more than 40% of students do not have any access to toilet paper or sanitary pads. This problem is particularly acute in secondary schools.
- Not enough maintenance staff: Over a quarter of schools have more than 400 students for a single maintenance staff. Maintenance staff are overwhelmed.
The report identified other challenges like overcrowding, lack of libraries and labs as well shortages of desks and chairs. For more detail see the links given above.
Upon hearing our findings as well as our demands at the Summit on Saturday, MEC Lesufi told a packed-to-capacity hall: “I fully accept all your demands unconditionally.” Our demands are that he do the following to solve the sanitation crisis by Youth Day, 16 June:
- Establish a Gauteng-appropriate standards for sanitation, particularly with regards to the ratio of students per toilet. The WHO recommends 1 toilet for 25 girls, and 1 toilet + 1 urinal for 50 boys .
- Establish a standard for the ratio of maintenance staff per students.
- Publicly provide a model budget for how schools in townships can afford to purchase critical items like soap, sanitary pads and toilet paper. We question whether they can afford to.
- Publicly begin blacklisting contractors who under-perform.
- Fully fund the GDE's request for R350 million to maintain school toilets.
- By 20 July 2015, the beginning of the third school term, he will:
- Demolish the toilet blocks at the 50 worst schools in the province and build new ones. He promised to provide the list of the targeted schools to Equal Education and challenged us to monitor to see if he kept his promise.
- Refurbish the toilets and classrooms used by matrics in all township schools. This includes fixing the ceilings, floors and curtains.
- Provide dignity packs to 21,000 girl learners on a monthly basis
- Replace all chalkboards in all matric classrooms in Gauteng with smartboards.
- He said that, from 1 May, he gave all schools the power to manage their own budget (i.e. all schools are now Section 21 schools)
- By 1 June, a number of schools in suburbs and townships will be governed by a merged School Governing Body (SGB). He gave the examples of Sandton High and Alexandra High, Lyndhurst and Pimville. He said this will enable children from low-income families to have access to resources at wealthier schools.
Equal Education and a Gauteng-wide coalition of 500 students, teachers, parents and grandparents belonging to a broad range of churches, civics and community organisations carried out the social audit in March and April of this year. This coalition included the Alexandra Civic Organisation, Bua Funda, the Gauteng Civic Organisation, Sidinga Uthando, the South African Council of Churches Gauteng, South African National Civic Organisation and the Moral Regeneration Movement.
The audit followed a rigorous process to ensure accuracy. All EE youth organisers and community auditors were trained in how to conduct the surveys before they began. This training included a background on the laws governing the provision of school infrastructure, basic research methodology and a detailed review of the audit data-gathering sheet. An experienced trainer also supervised auditors’ first school visit so as to immediately correct any errors in their approach. Having completed training, auditors went in teams of 2-5 to spend 1-2 hours surveying schools, interviewing school members and recording data. The auditors had to complete audit sheets which were handed in to our youth organisers for capturing and data analysis. Finally, the audit methodology was verified by a panel of independent observers from Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Tshepo Motsepe, Co-Head Equal Education Gauteng – 071 886 5637
Nombulelo Nyathela, Equal Education Spokesperson – 060 503 4933
Adam Bradlow, Co-Head Equal Education Gauteng – 072 347 3027
Gauteng Office (Tholakele Khumalo) – 011 333 2523