A lack of security at and on the way to school, teacher shortages, discriminatory teenage pregnancy policies, the illegal use of corporal punishment, and poor sanitation are key problems affecting schools across the Western Cape.
In order to study these problems and building on previous work done (see “History of the Campaign” below), Equal Education (EE) Western Cape launched a social audit between September and November 2015. Working with partner organisations, EE audited 244 schools serving 217,388 learners. The audit process involved interviewing administrators, recording of physical observations at schools, and having learners complete questionnaires about their experience of education conditions. Given the large size of the sample – 912 learner questionnaires, 220 administrator interviews, and 229 physical inspections – as well as the similarity between the sample’s demographics and the population of schools, it was possible to make strong estimates as to the conditions of schools in the Western Cape.
Some of the audit’s key findings were:
1. At 74% of schools that we audited, there was no toilet for learners with disabilities. This was even worse for rural schools, where 86% had no toilet for disabled learners
2. The WCED says it will not provide infrastructure upgrades for 266 schools built on private land – these schools won’t receive any new buildings, proper toilets and fences, libraries and laboratories. Many of these schools are built from inappropriate and dangerous materials like asbestos
3. Inadequate and unequal access to sanitary pads and bins, where richer schools have far better access than rural and township schools
4. Many schools have broken toilets because there are too many learners per toilet, and not enough money to hire cleaners
5. 57% of Western Cape schools do not meet the WCED minimum of one toilet for every 35 learners and there is no standard ratio of cleaning staff to school population
6. Less than half (47%) of schools have a full-time security guard
7. Corporal punishment takes place at 83% of schools in the sample.
8. Four out of 5 learners report that teachers use sticks, batons, pipes, and other objects to hit them
9. While 98% of schools were fenced, 42% of schools have holes in their fences.
10. Learners reported incidences of sexual assault at 16% of schools in the sample.
With the report as a basis, in late 2016 EE members in the Western Cape identified 20 initial demands; requesting urgent feedback from the Western Cape Education Department, the Western Cape Department of Community Safety, the Department of Basic Education, and the South African Police Services. To date we haven’t received an adequate response. The campaign continues.
Of “Loose Papers and Vague Allegations”: A Social Audit Report on the Safety and Sanitation Crisis in Western Cape Schools
Executive Summary of the Western Cape Schools Safety and Sanitation Social Audit Report
Pictures from the Western Cape Schools Safety and Sanitation Social Audit