The Department of Basic Education says it will eliminate pit toilets from at least 1000 public schools across the country this financial year.
Deputy Minister of Basic Education Reginah Mhaule has revealed this at the mini plenary debate during the tabling of the department’s budget vote in Parliament.
The Department’s budget allocation for the 2022/23 current financial year stands at R29-billion.
Mhaule says the eradication of dangerous pit toilets is just one of the main priorities in the year under review.
Last year the South African Human Rights Commission revealed that about more than 3000 public schools in six provinces had pit toilets. The commission’s report also cited that some of the challenges in these schools include issues of sanitation and the absence of water.
Deputy Minister says part of the department’s priority is the eradication of pit toilets during the current financial year.
“The remaining sixteen schools on the acidic program will be served with a complete set of appropriate toilets in this financial year. Similarly, the remaining 1,550 schools on the safe program will be replaced with a complete set of appropriate toilets. With regard to the utilization of the allocated budget, we are proud to announce that we have utilized 100 percent of the school infrastructure backlog grant and 99 percent of the basic infrastructure grant,” says Mhaule.
Issues of gender-base violence, bullying and racism in public schools have escalated in certain provinces. And the Deputy Minister says a comprehensive campaign with sister departments have been developed to deal with these challenges.
“The multi-sectoral approach has been adopted by the department which recognizes the immenseness of the challenges faced by all learners and educators in response to the trends posed by bullying and gender-based violence and femicide. The campaign is supported by other sister departments such as the department of health, social development, home affairs, justice and constitutional development, communications and digital technologies as well as the South African Police Services. The campaign will be rolled out in the remaining six provinces, especially in the hot spot in the coming financial years,” Mhaule explains.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga also told the virtual gathering that as part of addressing issues of unemployment, they have created almost 600 job opportunities for young people within the basic education sector.
“From December 2020 to date we have been able to create more than 596 job opportunities for young people in different areas and we have allocated a budget of R13-million. I also want to inform this house of some of our strategic areas so that we are judged on what we said we will be doing. Our six priorities to remind the house is that we have been committing ourselves to continue to lay a solid foundation for quality and efficient education system as well as providing some sort of skills in the future,” says Motshekga.
The minister revealed that the provision of school nutrition will also receive a larger slice in the budget allocation for the financial year under review.