24 March 2023, Johannesburg –Today marks the launch of The Michael Komape Sanitation Progress Monitor, an accountability tool that tracks progress made by the Limpopo Department of Education (LDoE) on eliminating unsafe and undignified sanitation, including pit toilets, in Limpopo public schools and installing safe and decent sanitation facilities.
The tool is named after the five-year-old learner, Michael Komape, who drowned in a pit toilet at his school in Limpopo in 2014. SECTION27, in partnership with the Centre for Child Law (CCL) launches the tool at the Human Rights Festival at Constitution Hill on 24 March 2023 between 10:00am and 12:00pm.
As of January 2023, data provided by LDoE reveals that over 65,940 learners from 210 schools rely exclusively on pit toilets. That slightly improved from data supplied by LDoE in December 2021, where 116,299 learners from 363 schools relied on pit toilets. These are 153 schools (42% of the original 363 “Priority 1” schools, which are schools with pit toilets only) where work is reported to be complete, or where toilets are considered adequate.
The Michael Komape Sanitation Progress Monitor combines all the data submitted by the LDoE in their revised plans to eradicate inadequate sanitation in the province, and their biannual progress reports, to the High Court since December 2021, into one place. The information in this tool is therefore the most up-to-date information provided by the LDoE on the state of sanitation in Limpopo’s public schools. It will, at the very least, be updated every six months, or whenever new data bundles are submitted to the court.
SECTION27 and CCL call on the public, such as learners, parents, school communities, media, and other stakeholders, to use the tool to collectively put pressure on the LDoE and hold the department to account.
The tool has a countdown clock that shows the time remaining until 31 March 2023. By this deadline, the number of schools with pit toilets only should be zero. If there are still Priority 1 schools with pit toilets after the deadline, the countdown clock will show the number of days and hours over the deadline.
The public is able to use the SCHOOLS SEARCH function to find a particular school, or filter the table to find schools in a certain district or quintile, for example. By clicking on a school name, you can find more detailed information about that school, such as the number of learners and what the toilet situation is at that school.
There are also summaries of the work SECTION27 has been doing since December 2021 to ensure that schools are supplied with mobile toilets and to monitor the LDoE’s progress. This tool is another step taken in the interest of justice and protecting the rights of learners in public schools. In addition, it ensures transparency and archives the many years of work done by SECTION27 and broader civil society in holding the government to account.
SECTION27 and CCL launch the accountability tool amid several horrific deaths of learners who fall into school pit toilets. The most recent case being of three-year-old Langalam Viki, whose lifeless body was discovered in a pit latrine toilet in a public school in the Eastern Cape on 7 March 2023.
Learners should not have their lives threatened and cut short in violent and avoidable ways. We also remember the lives of learners who died in pit latrine toilets; seven-year-old Lister Magongwa who died in 2013 in Limpopo, five-year-old Oratilwe Dilwane who died in 2016 in North West and six-year-old Siyamthanda Mtunu who died 2017.
As part of the Human Rights Festival, we are hosting an exhibition at Number 5 in Constitution Hill to commemorate the lives of learners lost in such unfortunate ordeals. In addition, we aim to highlight the sanitation plight of schools in Limpopo that still have dilapidated toilets and some no toilets at all.
The Department of Basic Education has a Constitutional obligation to protect the rights of learners at schools, and SECTION27 and CCL continue to seek justice and ask, how many more learners need to die before the call to accountability is heeded?
SECTION27 and CCL call on the public and the media to use The Michael Komape Sanitation Progress Monitor and hold the LDoE accountable to account.
Click here to access The Michael Komape Sanitation Progress Monitor.
Date: 24 March 2023
Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm
Venue: Women’s Jail Lekgotla Room, 11 Kotze St, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, 2017
The European Union funding supports SECTION27 and the Centre for Child Law’s work in enhancing accountability in health and education in South Africa.
For media queries, contact Pearl Nicodemus | firstname.lastname@example.org | 082 298 2636