VICTORY FOR LEARNERS AT LIMPOPO SCHOOL: Limpopo Department of Education delivers after SECTION27 demanded compliance with school safety preconditions at Kharivha Primary School
8 June 2020 – SECTION27 welcomes the delivery of temporary sanitation facilities at Kharivha Primary School (“Kharivha”). SECTION27 has been representing the School Governing Body (SGB) of Kharivha, a school which was not ready to be reopened safely for the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) originally proposed reopening date of 1 June 2020.
On 28 May 2020, when the SGB received instructions from the DBE regarding preparing the school for safe reopening, learners and staff were using two unlawful pit toilets and there was no running water on the school property. In preparation for schools reopening, Kharivha had only received 6 disposable masks for the school’s staff and only seven 1 litre bottles of sanitisers for its approximately 95 learners. No masks had been delivered for learners.
The school was also instructed by the circuit manager in its area to demolish the corrugated iron pit toilets on 20 May 2020, this would have left the learners and educators with no ablution facilities apart from old, dilapidated ‘Enviro-Loo’ toilets. These four Enviro-Loos were built over 30 years ago, are structurally unsafe and have reached their capacity to hold waste.
On three occasions between 29 May and 5 June 2020, SECTION27 wrote to the National office of the DBE and the Limpopo Department of Basic Education (LPED) about our grave concerns for the safety of learners and staff returning to Kharivha during COVID-19 without the delivery of requisite sanitation, water or personal protective equipment (PPE). The correspondence was premised on the fact that the DBE has promised that it would deliver two cloth masks per learner and staff member, but also that it would deliver portable toilets to schools with pit toilets and water tanks to schools without water. This was in line with the DBE’s safety preconditions for the reopening of schools during the COVID-19 disaster set out in its Standard Operating Procedures for the Prevention, Containment and Management of COVID-19 in Schools and School Communities (SOPs).
But at the last minute, the DBE and the LPED honoured their commitments. On 4 June, a 5 000 litre water tank was delivered to Kharivha, and the next day on 5 June four mobile toilets were delivered together with a thermometer and masks for learners. We received word from SGB members that between 6 and 7 June 2020 the water connection for new water tankers was completed. The pictures below* show the new temporary sanitation infrastructure at Kharivha, where just a few days ago, the school had no functioning toilets, running water or water tanks.
This is a victory for the SGB and the community at large, who can rest assured that all reasonable steps have been taken to guard the safety of their children. At a time where the hygiene and safety of the educators and the learners are of utmost importance, SECTION27 is pleased with the cooperation of the LPED. We hope that strides are taken to make these temporary solutions permanent, so that Limpopo learners like the ones at Kharivha can access their right to basic education in an environment that is safe, dignified and conducive to learning.
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