This is how Mshengu plans to reduce the number of pit toilets at KZN schools
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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Education plans to reduce the number of schools with pit latrines to just 400 by next year.
Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu addressed the issue during a briefing on Sunday on issues affecting schools in the province.
Mshengu said Covid-19 had been disruptive as funds for other projects in the department had to be redirected to fund safety measures against the pandemic.
“We have been forced to purchase important, but expensive, items. And we are spending a lot of money on things that are not going to be legacy projects.
“We are trying hard to leave some legacy projects, we did not want a waste of resources during this period,” he said.
One of the projects the department is working on is the complete eradication of pit latrines in the province.
“Covid-19 has forced more impetus and we have to work at a faster speed. Currently we have deployed chemical toilets in school where they are using pit latrines, it is a temporary measure but that is not sustainable. The amount we are paying could be used to build proper structures,” said Mshengu.
He said there were 1300 schools in the province that required proper structures and the latest report received two weeks ago showed the department had already built proper toilets in 300 schools and aimed to have built 600 more by December.
He said the provincial department had lost about R500million, which was sent back to the national government because of budgets cuts and part of the money had been earmarked for the infrastructure grant.
Mshengu urged communities to stop disrupting schools because of infrastructure challenges.
“We know that the issue of infrastructure is a thorny issue in our communities. We do not believe that should result in the closure of our schools, we have seen communities closing schools because of fencing and ablution facilities. We know that some problems are the result of thugs in our communities, for instance some schools were fenced and the fence was stolen by thugs and the department now has to re-fence the school and it will be therefore unfair for the community to close the school.”
Mshengu announced plans by his department to partner with local universities and introduce high school pupils to subject experts from tertiary institutions.
“Over the past two weeks I have had meetings with the vice-chancellors of UKZN and DUT and their teams. We want to co-ordinate the assistance we can get from these tertiary institutions.
“We want to tap into their expertise, they have professors in science and mathematics and we are saying we want to use the expertise so they can help to empower children while at a schooling level. We don’t want our children to start meeting specialists in a particular subject only when they get to university.”
He said details of this partnership would be revealed soon.