The Sunday Tribune has learnt that schools under Mid-Illovo circuit were not ready to welcome back grades 7 and 12 pupils.
The Sunday Tribune has learnt that schools under Mid-Illovo circuit were not ready to welcome back grades 7 and 12 pupils.

PICS: Stinking toilets and broken windows. What rural kids face when schools re-open on Monday

By Nkululeko Nene Time of article published Jun 7, 2020

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Durban - Broken windows, stinking pit toilets with faecal sludge, and a shortage of water, are some of the challenges facing rural pupils when schools reopen on Monday.

Despite KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu confirming readiness after personal protective equipment (PPE) was delivered across the province, there were glaring inconsistencies in some village schools.

The Sunday Tribune has learnt that schools under Mid-Illovo circuit were not ready to welcome back grades 7 and 12 pupils.

According to parents, none of the 17 primary schools had been disinfected by Friday afternoon. However, only 10 high schools had been fumigated by Bidvest.

A source confirmed that principals attended a workshop on Thursday to equip themselves with the usage of PPEs. The training was conducted by health officials. The principals were expected to filter down the information to teachers, cleaners and screeners employed at each school.

Community activist Ntobe Shezi said she was concerned that broken windows had not been repaired at schools. She said accessing water had also been a challenge for both teachers and pupils.

“Taps have run dry with no water coming out. Pupils would have no water to drink when thirsty but we still have faith that the department would provide a plan to circumvent this dilemma.

“I feel pity for both teachers and pupils who will have to brave the cold weather while trying to focus on learning,” said Shezi.

Mid-Illovo residents depend on the Embo community clinic which has limited resources. It is alleged that if a patient requires an ambulance it has to be dispatched from Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg, which is 80km away.

A parent, Biva Mkhize, said reopening schools amid the global Covid-19 crisis was not a good idea. He said the reopening of Mpofana Primary School was rushed.

While parent Bheki Ndlovu was grateful that sanitisers and masks were delivered in bulk to Thembalethu Primary School, there was still no water.

He said pupils were still dependent on the smelly bucket system which was a health hazard.

“The four toilets have not been drained for months and the smell is awful. Perhaps it should have been ideal to let this year pass rather than subjecting both staff and pupils to a death trap,” said Ndlovu.

An empty JoJo tank at one of the schools signalling the shortage of water.

The appalling conditions of the toilets, which have not been drained for months.

Meanwhile, Mkhambathini mayor Eric Ngcongo said when he visited the schools he noticed the appalling conditions of the toilets.

“Pit latrines are full, it is an eyesore with stagnant human waste. It is a mess, which both the departments

of education and public works need

to resolve going forward,” he said.

Ngcongo said he was also surprised that other schools were not fumigated.

Spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said the department acknowledged the health hazards caused by pit toilets and lack of water to rural schools.

He said infrastructure had been a thorny subject after communities were also responsible for burning down schools while others were destroyed by natural disasters.

“However, the department has urged local municipalities to deliver water to schools. There is also a

plan to hire mobile toilets for the affected schools.

“The MEC will do everything to save lives while not compromising on the academic year,” said Mthethwa.

Pit latrines with faecal sludge are a concern for pupils attending rural schools.

An incomplete handwashing station erected on a wall.

Sunday Tribune

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