Basic Education keeps shifting pit toilet eradication goal posts

Issued by Baxolile Ndoda MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
24 Oct 2022 in News

Despite promises from President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) of a special purpose vehicle, to mobilise financial institutions and the private sector, and the Minister for Basic Education, Angie Motshegka’s many platitudes, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is not doing enough to eradicate pit toilets and develop school infrastructure.

In an answer to a parliamentary question from the DA, the Minister revealed that the Department is in the process “to determine revised timelines … to address pit toilets and dilapidated mud, asbestos and plank schools”.

With the exception of the Western Cape, the Auditor-General of South Africa (AG) highlighted ineffective project implementation and management in all school infrastructure projects, including the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI), stating, “The departments are struggling to provide quality education facilities in a successful and timely manner.”

The President’s special purpose vehicle was not even mentioned in the Department’s annual report, proving that it was nothing but another empty promise.

In March this year, Amnesty International indicated 5 167 schools were still forced to use pit toilets. This while implementing agents that have built schools for 3 times the intended amount get away without any consequences. This takes away money that could be used to get rid of pit toilets, dilapidated asbestos and schools falling apart. This is a grave failure by the Department given that all schools should have been provided with proper sanitation by November 2016, according to regulations relating to the Minimum Norms and Standards published in 2013, and all infrastructure should have been brought into compliance with the Norms and Standards by November 2020.

With goal posts that keeps moving and the last assessment identifying pit toilets done in 2018, it seems the Department has lost its momentum in addressing these serious issues. Oversights by the DA have revealed serious school infrastructure concerns in almost all provinces. Unless the Minister exerts political will to ensure her Department implements necessary measures to meet their own objectives, the learners will continue to suffer in inadequate and dangerous schools.