While Mabila Primary School learners in Vhembe remains without proper toilets, the Limpopo education department has traced the problem to a failed schools merger.

Learners at the school are forced to use four dilapidated pit toilets, two for girls and two for boys. Last month Health-e News reported on how these conditions prevail,  despite building materials delivered at the school three years ago.

The provincial department said that plans to build a new sanitation block at the rural school were abandoned due to a proposal to merge Mabila Primary School with another primary school. Mabila Primary School has about 200 learners from grades R to seven.

“The school was part of the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) programme implemented by Mvula Trust, said provincial department spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene. “But it was later established that the school was intended to be merged with Guyuni Primary, with the latter being the proposed merger centre.”

Chuene says the merger, which is “still ongoing,” meant that the construction project to build new toilets was redirected. The spokesperson was unable to given timelines on the merger, however.

“Silly excuses”

The department first proposed the merger in 2017 but the Mabila School Governing Body (SGB) rejected it. The SGB argued that the school was too far from Mabila village.

“We refused their proposal to merge the school with Guyuni Primary school back in 2017 as we believed that it was not a good idea,” said SGB member Eric Negondeni. “If we had agreed on the merger, our learners could have now been subjected to long walking distance in order to get to the school.”

The SGB further rejected the department’s latest explanation on why the school still had to use pit toilets.

“It hurts us that our children have to suffer like this, while the department of education keeps on making silly excuses on why they are not building new sanitations at Mabila Primary,” said Negodeni.

Still, the SGB of Mabila Primary School say they will never agree to the proposed schools merger.

“They must stop making silly excuses and build our children new toilets as we will never give in to their proposal to move them to another school. Our children have suffered enough,” he added.—Health-e News