THE Congress of South African Students (COSAS) in Limpopo is set for a showdown with the department of education in the province for failing to address the issue of pit toilets.
The organisation said it was fed up with the continual deadlocks regarding the matter as the toilets have proved to be a health hazard to learners in the province. Speaking to African Times, COSAS Provincial Chairperson Ntwanano Ngoveni said the matter has been dragging on for years.
“The reason we did not make a follow up is that the MEC (Ishmael Kgetjepe) promised us that these toilets will be delivered to schools across the province. We blame the MEC for dragging his feet because he prefers to attend ANC conferences while he forgets about his department,” he said.
Ngoveni said a lot of schools were supposed to have been upgraded and new toilets built but that has not been the case. He said schools such as Banana Primary School in Tzaneen and several others in Giyani, Ga-Mashashane and Malamulele are still using pit toilets. “This is one of the things that bother us because these learners continue to pass but their lives continue to be placed in danger,” he said.
Ngoveni lashed out at the department, claiming they only listen to them when they need their votes but once that is done nothing happens. He said they have been considering marching to the department for some time but due to financial constraints, they were forced to postpone.
“The problem with our (provincial) government is that they are only interested in us when we have to attend their functions and that is where they are able to bag votes but when we raise issues they are quick to ignore us. Honestly speaking this year as COSAS we have failed to address these issues because we are dealing with a lot of things alone and if we can check, the organization does not have any transport and financial means. So whenever there is an issue that needs to be addressed, we have to first beg for assistance and to find yourself travelling the whole province and checking the conditions of schools is tough for us. We have drawn a program of action to begin throughout the course of next year and our first program is to march to the MEC’s office because the Premier has swapped MEC’s but failed to swap the MEC of Education and that man is failing in that portfolio. Yes, he is a teacher but how is he able to fail whilst he knows what learners need in schools,” said Ngoveni.
The organisation’s voice comes a little too late following the death of Michael Komape who died after falling into a pit toilet at the Mahlodumela Primary School in Chebeng Village outside Polokwane. Learners from Ga-Mashashane Village under the banner of Equal Education took to the streets recently demanding service allocations in schools.
Department of Education Spokesperson Sam Makondo said the issue of infrastructure at schools was being attended to. He said from 2014 the department has spent all of its budgets in a bid to deal with the infrastructure problems in the province.
“As we speak, we are close to 90% on our expenditure on infrastructure so that is a sign that we are indeed doing our job. The department has also been responding to infrastructure deadlocks which are evident in our budget expenditure. So it is not a matter of whether urban or rural schools are differentiated or isolated, it is just a matter of legalities in addressing these deadlocks,” he said.