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Section27 launches tool to track govt’s progress in eradicating pit toilets


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Section27 launches tool to track govt’s progress in eradicating pit toilets

24th March 2023

By: Thabi Madiba
Creamer Media Senior Research Assistant and Reporter


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Public interest law organisation Section27, in partnership with centre for Child Law (CCL), on Friday launched the Michael Komape sanitation progress monitor tool to track the Limpopo Department of Education’s (LDoE’s) progress in eliminating unsafe and undignified sanitation at public schools in the province through the installation of safe and decent sanitation facilities.

The sanitation progress monitor is named after Michael Komape, a five-year-old learner who drowned in a pit toilet at his school, in Limpopo, in 2014.


In response to his death and that of several other learners who fall into school pit toilets, the tool was launched.

The most recent case involves three-year-old Langalam Viki, whose lifeless body was discovered in a pit latrine toilet in a public school, in the Eastern Cape, earlier this month.


Section27 Education Rights Programme legal researcher Motheo Brodie explained that the tool is another step taken in the interest of justice and protecting the rights of learners in public schools.

The tool combines all the data provided by the LDoE, in their revised plans to eradicate inadequate sanitation in the province, and Section27’s biannual progress reports to the high court since December 2021.

Section27 noted that as of January this year, data provided by the LDoE revealed that over 65 940 learners, from 210 schools in the Limpopo province, rely exclusively on pit toilets.

“That slightly improved from data supplied by the 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 one schools - which are schools with pit toilets only) where work is reported to be completed or where toilets are considered adequate,” Brodie noted.

The sanitation progress monitor tracks the number of basic pit toilets and number of toilets required to meet norms and standards. It also tracks the number of existing appropriate toilets and the backlog number of toilets required.

Section27 and CCL want the public, learners, parents, schools, communities, media and other stakeholders to use the tool to collectively put pressure on the LDoE and hold the department to account.

Media group Media Hack director Laura Grant explained that the information provided by the sanitation progress monitor is the most up-to-date information, as provided by the LDoE, and will be updated every six months, or whenever new data bundles are submitted to the court.

The LDoE has until March 31 to replace pit toilets from all priority one schools that rely only on pit toilets in the province. The original deadline for this was six years ago.

The tool has a countdown clock that shows the time remaining until March 31 deadline.

“By this deadline, the number of schools with pit toilets only should be zero. If there are still priority one schools with pit toilets after the deadline, the countdown click will show the number of days and hours over the deadline.”

Brodie noted that the tool ensures transparency and archives the many years of work done by Section27 and the broader civil society in holding the government to account.

Meanwhile, Section27 senior attorney Demichelle Petherbridge explained that the organisations hope that the tool will empower civil society, school governing bodies, and learners with the information they need to hold the LDoE accountable.

Petherbridge said the tool is designed for Limpopo, since Section27 only has data in Limpopo at the moment; however, the organisation hopes that the model will expand to other provinces.





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