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Media Statement: Letters of Demand on Water and Sanitation to Provincial Departments of Education

29 September 2021

Attention Editors and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission (Commission) has put six (6) Provincial MEC’s for Education on terms concerning water and sanitation deficiencies at schools in their provinces.  These are the MECs for Education of KwaZulu Natal, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Free State and the Eastern Cape.

The letters putting the MECs on terms are based on reports received from the relevant Provincial Education Departments (PDEs) in response to requests by the Commission on the source of water and type of sanitation at all schools in the province.  The responses, inter alia, indicate that –

  • 983 schools in KwaZulu Natal are reliant on pit latrines;
  • 9 schools are without water; 44 schools have no form of sanitation and 19 schools use pit latrines in the North West Province;
  • 113 schools are without water in Limpopo;
  • 59 schools are using pit latrines in Mpumalanga Province;
  • 199 schools are without water; and 2 236 schools are using pit latrines in the Eastern Cape Province; and
  • 10 schools are without water; and 5 schools do not have any form of sanitation in the Free State Province.

The Commission has written to the MEC’s requiring that these provinces provide the Commission with inter alia detailed action plans with strict timeframes and tangible measures to overcome the health and physical risks to which learners, educators and administrators are exposed. The action plans need to include the covering up and securing of pit latrines, which pose a safety risk to learners. The Commission has also informed the MEC’s that it will monitor the responses attentively and take the necessary action, including litigation, if necessary, in the best interests of the child; and to protect the right to a basic education.

The Commission is committed to working with the National Department of Basic Education as well as provincial departments of education to ensure that the right to a basic education is immediately realised.

The Commission’s letters putting the MECs on terms can be found here, and the Commission’s report (based on the information received from the PDE’s) here.




Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission


For Enquiries: Gushwell Brooks – Communications Co-ordinator Tel: 082 645 8573 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




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