Blocked, broken and overflowing toilets at many Gauteng schools compromise learners’ health, dignity, and ability to access education, says rights group Equal Education. They say that despite the upgrades and renovations made by the Gauteng Department of Education, the state of sanitation in many schools is deplorable and unhygienic.

Learners face severe challenges around shortages of toilet facilities, lack of privacy in school bathrooms because of broken locks, and unhygienic conditions due to the limited cleaning staff – and Equal Education wants Gauteng Premier David Makhura to intervene.

In 2013, Equal Education members in Gauteng began advocating for improved sanitation after a survey of 11 schools in Tembisa revealed the shocking state of the toilets for learners. In September 2014, there was a march by 2,000 Equal Education members to the GDE’s offices to demand decent sanitation.

According to Equal Education, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi promised to spend R15-million to upgrade sanitation at all schools in Tembisa, and a further R150-million to improve sanitation in the province.

Equal Education researcher Angela Bukenya says the department had prioritised the upgrading of school sanitation facilities, including an increase in budget allocations.

The state of bathrooms in some schools Equal Education has audited. (Photo supplied)