17 March 2023, Johannesburg – SECTION27, in partnership with the Centre for Child Law, will launch an online tool, The Michael Komape Sanitation Progress Monitor, to track progress made by the Limpopo Department of Education (LDoE) to eliminate unsafe and undignified sanitation at public schools throughout the Limpopo province and install safe and decent sanitation facilities.
The Michael Komape Sanitation Progress Monitor, named after the five-year-old learner, Michael Komape, who drowned in a pit toilet at his school in Limpopo in 2014, will be launched at the Human Rights Festival held at the Constitution Hill on 24 March 2023. As part of the festival, SECTION27 will also host an exhibition to commemorate the life of Michael Komape from 25 March at 10:00 am – 26 March 6:30 pm, and an information stall about the work of the organisation.
Following SECTION27’s interventions, the High Court in Limpopo handed down judgment in the Michael Komape case in September 2021, compelling the (LDoE) to provide a list of schools with pit toilets and other inadequate sanitation, plans to eradicate these and, upgrade school sanitation in the province and to report every six months on progress.
According to the LDoE’s plan, it has until 31 March 2023 to replace pit toilets from all public schools that rely only pit toilets in the Limpopo Province. This is the first deadline for upgrading all “Priority One Schools” – these are schools that rely only on pit toilets and have the most pressing needs.
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 a four-year-old learner 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. The Department of Education has a Constitutional obligation to protect the rights of learners at schools, and SECTION27 continues to seek justice and ask, how many more learners need to die before the call to accountability is heeded?
The Michael Komape Sanitation Progress Monitor will allow the public, such as learners, parents, school communities, media, and other stakeholders, to track progress and hold the LDoE accountable for meeting their deadlines. It also shows the remaining pit toilets in the province and the number of learners affected. Overall, the tool will monitor the LDoE’s commitment to adhere to the court order to eradicate pit toilets and provide safe sanitation facilities.
The inadequate and unsafe sanitation facilities at schools infringe on the learners’ constitutional rights, including the right to basic education and their right to dignity, and their eradication must be continuously monitored to ensure our learners are safe at school.
SECTION27 and the Centre for Child Law call on the public and the media to join the launch of The Michael Komape Sanitation Progress Monitor.
Date: 24 March 2023
Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm
Venue: Women’s Jail, Conference Room 2, 11 Kotze St, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, 2017
Registration Link: https://forms.gle/5FWG6A1Rbokpo8xF7
The European Union funding supports SECTION27 and the Centre for Child Law’s work in enhancing accountability in health and education in South Africa.
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