Students picket for water and sanitation in schools

Equal Education demands implementation of deadline for school infrastructure

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Photo of students protesting in front of parliament
Members of Equal Education picketed outside parliament yesterday demanding better infrastructure in schools. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

Members of Equal Education picketed in several cities yesterday demanding that the Department of Basic Education meet the November deadline for fixing infrastructure in schools.

In Cape Town, about 60 EE activists picketed in front of parliament. They wanted to hand over a memorandum to the chairperson of the portfolio committee for Basic Education.

Similar pickets took place in other provinces including the Eastern Cape, where photos of poor conditions in schools were on display when EE members picketed outside the Premier’s office in Bhisho.

EE is calling on the Department of Basic Education to meet the 29 November deadline for ensuring that there are no longer any schools without water, electricity, or sanitation, or built from inappropriate materials. EE says the Department’s own 2015 data shows that about 452 schools have no electricity, 913 have no water, and 128 schools have no sanitation facilities. In all, 4,773 schools have an unreliable water supply, 2,854 have an unreliable electricity supply and 10,419 schools still have pit latrines.

There were brief clashes between police and EE members outside the legislature when police demanded a permit for the picket and later when EE members taking pictures of the picket were told to stop by the police.

EE Eastern Cape head Luzuko Sidima told the police that no permit was needed and eventually police allowed two members to go inside the legislature to Premier Phumulo Masualle’s office to hand over their memorandum.

“Hopefully the Premier’s office will now respond to us,” said Ziya Gaxa from Qonce High School in King William’s Town.

Earlier this month EE filed court papers in Bhisho High Court asking the court to force Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga to fix defects in the regulations on Minimum Norms and Standards for school infrastructure.

“The minister promised us better schools and now it is time to deliver. We are tired of studying in a shack. We demand a better a school, as it is our right,” said Gaxa.

Sidima said the protesters were a small number because some students are busy with exams but they were happy that Chief of Staff Nandy Sibutshwa had promised to take their memorandum to Masualle’s office.

In Cape Town, no-one from Parliament’s portfolio committee was available to receive the memo, said Kealeboga Ramaru, deputy head of Equal Education in the Western Cape, in spite of repeated emails and telephone calls.

Ramaru asked a SAPS member at the gate of Parliament to hand over the memo but the officer did not accept it. Ramaru said she would continue to try to contact the committee chairperson about EE’s demands.

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TOPICS:  Education

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