Johannesburg - Equal Education expressed shock and sadness on Thursday at the death of a Grade R pupil who fell into a pit toilet and died.
“Equal Education is shocked and deeply saddened by the untimely and avoidable death of a Grade R learner from Mahlodimela primary school, who was found in a pit latrine at his school in Chedeng village,” Equal Education chairwoman Yoliswa Dwane said in statement.
“This tragic incident demonstrates the health and safety dangers of pit latrines and emphasises the urgent need to address school infrastructure, particularly in rural areas where the poorest and most under resourced schools are in the majority.”
Six-year-old Michael Komape died when he fell into a pit toilet at his school on Monday.
Dwane said the 2011 National Education Infrastructure Management System Report showed that most schools across the country continued to exist without adequate sanitation.
“Of the 24 793 public ordinary schools, 11 450 schools are still using pit latrine toilets and 2 402 schools have no water supply, while a further 2611 schools have an unreliable water supply.”
Dwane said after more than three years of campaigning by Equal Education, the legally binding regulations for minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure were adopted by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga in November 2013.
“The regulations say all schools must have sanitation facilities that are easily accessible to all learners and must provide privacy and security, promote health and hygiene standards and be maintained in good working order.”
Dwane said Equal Education called on all provincial education departments to eradicate all pit latrines in schools immediately and implement the regulations for norms and standards for school infrastructure.
On Wednesday the SA Human Rights Commission said it would investigate sanitation in schools across the Limpopo province.
“The commission has decided to launch an own-initiative investigation around this matter,” spokesman Isaac Mangena said in a statement.
The commission said it was aware of many other schools in the province that still used pit toilets. - Sapa