Equal Education calls on Ramaphosa to get involved in fixing schools

5 days 13 hours ago
This follows decision by Concourt not to hear education department’s appeal against norms and standards judgment

By Saam Niami Jalinous

Photo of children defecating in field
Young children use a field as a toilet at Ntshingeni Senior Primary near Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape. Equal Education wants schools like this to be fixed. Photo: Yamkela Ntshongwana

The Constitutional Court has turned down the Department of Basic Education (DBE) appeal against the landmark Norms and Standards case brought by Equal Education - and the education lobbying group is now demanding that President Cyril Ramaphosa gets involved.

The case originated when the DBE set Norms and Standards for South African school infrastructure in 2013, and provided its own deadline to fix the infrastructure standards by 2016, which it failed to meet. Equal Education campaigned against the missed deadline and when the DBE failed to engage Equal Education, it took the department to court. Equal Education originally won the case in the Bhisho High Court July 2018.

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“I fell into a pit of mud and human waste”

3 weeks 1 day ago
Pit toilets finally repaired at Eastern Cape school where caretaker nearly drowned

By Phathiswa Shushwana and Chumani Mazwi

Photo of toilet buildings
New pit toilets have been built at Kalalo Junior Secondary School after a caretaker nearly drowned in the old toilet. Photo: Chumani Mazwi

In August 2015, Mntundini Saphepha went to use the pit toilet at Kalalo Junior Secondary School in Elliotdale, Eastern Cape. The floor collapsed and he fell into a pool of mud and human waste.

Saphepha told his story in an affidavit to the Bhisho High Court during a hearing on Norms and Standards for school infrastructure in July this year. “I fell into a pool of mud and human waste up to my chest. It was so disgusting and there was even sanitary pads floating in the waste. I was drowning.”

It took Saphepha 25 minutes to free himself from the pit.

“I took off all my clothes and I poured water all over myself. I quickly called home and asked someone to bring me some clothes to change into.”

He called the school clerk who took a long pole to measure the depth of the pit. “It was about two metres deep.”

“I was scared to death when it was happening. I was in there for so long. I am so embarrassed by the whole thing.”

“I didn’t eat the whole day and half of the next day. I was so disgusted as I thought I might have digested some of the pool of mud and waste. I am now always anxious and nervous every time I have to use the bathroom.”

Saphepha said district officials had visited the school on 7 September 2015 and promised to build a new staff toilet.

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