The broken toilets of Joe Slovo High School

| Nokubonga Yawa

Toilets in many Cape Flats schools are in poor condition. GroundUp visited a school with a serious problem with its toilets and also interviewed the Western Cape Education Department about plans for addressing the problem.

Joe Slovo High School in Khayelitsha has been struggling with broken toilet issues for years. “We started writing letters to the Department of Education in 2005 asking for help but it takes time to get them fixed,” says the school’s deputy-principal Mrs Boniswa Xonti.

Xonti blames the community and learners for the problem. She says that leaner’s are careless. “Sometimes you find tin cans inside the toilet and you ask yourself why would someone do that. However the community is also responsible because the department sent a company to fix the toilets and the following night there was a break-in. The new pipes were cut off and they took the copper and taps.”

Xhonti explains, “This is a very serious problem because it affects learners and teachers. We have only two blocks of toilets working during lunch time. They get packed and some learners decide not to go and after lunch they disturb teaching by going to the toilets. Some boys decide to help themselves on stairs. We have been helped by organisations like Rainbow, but the problem still exists.”

Asisipho Ngxongxela, a Grade 10 leaner at the school, said, “We learners are the ones using the toilets and we should be taking responsibility to make sure that they stay clean and in good conditions. I wish I could see my school toilets fixed and my fellow learners respecting their school. “

Listen to Mr Paddy Attwell, spokesperson for the Western Cape Education Department, discuss the department’s approach to toilets in schools.


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