Temporary toilets will be provided to a Port Elizabeth primary school where more than 1 000 pupils have been without working ablution facilities for the past three years.
Eastern Cape Education MEC Mandla Makupula made the commitment for temporary toilets following a meeting with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) last week.
The commission met Makupula after being alerted to the plight of pupils at Zanoxolo Public Primary School in Motherwell’s NU1 which was reported in The Herald last month.
Pupils have been forced to use cracked, leaking and broken toilets that do not flush, and bathrooms with no working basins as three years of appeals for assistance to the Eastern Cape Department of Education failed to yield any results.
Advocate Mohamed Shafie Ameermia, a commissioner with the SAHRC, said he and a provincial team had met Makupula and he had committed to having a plan in place to assist the school by October 20.
“We have received this commitment from the MEC and we will be following up with him to ensure they follow through,” Ameermia said.
He said a visit to the school had proven that the toilets were in such poor condition that they needed to be demolished and replaced.
The school has eight bathrooms – four each for the boys and girls. Each of the girls’ bathroom s has five toilets and four handbasins, while the boys’ each have three toilets, five urinals and four basins.
But none of the toilets is working and most of the basins have been ripped out and plumbing has been stolen.
Governing body chairman Thembekile Jonga said while an education department team had arrived on Friday to evaluate the toilets, the situation remained the same.
“We are grateful that plans are in motion and that the department is working towards resolving the problem.We are also grateful to The Herald for exposing this problem at the school,” he said.
“However, we are concerned about how long it will take to fix our toilets as the delay is still a violation of our children’s rights.”
He said in warmer months the smell from the toilets spread throughout the school, making teaching and learning unbearable.
Provincial education department spokesman Loyiso Pulumani confirmed Makupula had met with the SAHRC.
“The SAHRC is doing its job and we welcome this intervention from them,” he said.
“The MEC has committed to come back to the commission within a month to advise it on the way forward. “He has already briefed the depar tment’s head of infrastructure and an assessor has been sent to the school.”