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Friday, January 21, 2022

Eradicating Pit Latrines In Limpopo Schools Tops Education Department’s Priority List

Rolivhuwa Sadiki

Limpopo’s Department of Education has prioritized the eradication of pit toilets during the coming financial year.

The department has allocated R32,291bn for phasing out pit latrines in 507 schools.

Education MEC Polly Boshielo said during her budget speech Tuesday, that the Department of Basic Education will oversee the process at 300 schools while 207 schools will be managed by the provincial education department. 

Limpopo has been marred by pit toilets controversy since the death of five year-old Michael Komape in January 2014. He was a pupil at Mahlodumela Primary in Chebeng village. He died after his school’s pit toilet collapsed and he fell in while relieving himself.  

The case is heading to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) after Polokwane High Court Judge, Gerrit Muller dismissed compensation claims from the Komape family who were suing for damages from the government.

In the civil claim, the family sought R940 000 in general damages for emotional trauma including shock experienced as a result of the learner’s death and R2m for grief.

Instead, R6000.00 was awarded to each of Komape’s siblings for medical expenses. 

However, the court put the department on notice to install proper toilets in all rural schools.

The Komape family is appealing sections of the 2018 High Court judgment which dismissed some of their claims and the appeal will be heard by the SCA on September 2.     

Limpopo’s matric results were up a mere 3.8% from 2017s 65.6% to 69.4% in 2018. 

Education MEC Polly Boshielo

While it also managed to improve the 2017 bachelor passes by 2.1%, putting it as the fifth contributor of (bachelor) passes in the country, the department will continue to implement and intensify various interventions that will assist in improving learner performance in the 2019 Grade 12 National Senior Certificate. 

“We will continue to implement the second chance matric programme and intensify the support for learners who enroll for this programme,” said Boshielo.  

Major challenges in terms of delivering infrastructure projects because of staffing shortages continue to hinder progress.

Boshielo said vacant posts within the infrastructure unit will be prioritised this financial year.

“We hope this will enhance the effectiveness of the unit,” she said.

With the 4th Industrial Revolution beckoning, R75 million has been allocated to procure tablets, interactive boards and mobile science laboratories for schools, especially in the rural areas. 

These initiatives will assist in bringing learners on par with learners from other provinces in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills and the implementation of e-Learning. 

However, the department’s main challenge remains theft and vandalisation of school infrastructure including ICT equipment. 

“The department is appealing to communities to protect and jealously guard this infrastructure for the benefit of our children,” Boshielo said.  

Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha said issues such as industrialization, and the delivery of basic services such as water, sanitation and roads are also focus areas for the province. 

Mathabatha was speaking at the province‘s provincial legislature in Lebowakgomo during the province’s budget speech. 

With the challenge of water shortages occurring in most parts of the country, the premier said he has moved the issue of water delivery to his office. 

“I will be working closely with water boards and municipalities which are water service authorities including the department of water affairs to ensure that they deal with whatever is preventing water to go to our communities,” he said. 

Following an unqualified audit opinion within the office of the premier from the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA)’s consolidated general report on the local government audit outcomes; Mathabatha said a few management issues will require urgent attention and action. 

“An administration has been directed to ensure a sustained solution to all the issues which have been highlighted by the Auditor General,” said the premier.

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