The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) is currently rolling out a R126-million sanitation upgrade project at rural schools in the Eastern Cape on behalf of the Eastern Cape Department of Education (DoE).
The programme will see 947 toilets built at 108 schools in the Transkei region of the province as part of an initiative to improve infrastructure at Eastern Cape schools.
Millions of people do not have access to proper sanitation across South Africa and the situation is especially dire at some rural schools. The Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal are the worst-affected provinces in terms of infrastructure backlogs.
Sanitation facilities at rural schools are generally bad, with toilet facilities that are blocked, broken or dirty, resulting in facilities that are often unusable. Some rural schools have no sanitation facilities at all, forcing scholars to relieve themselves outside.
“Poor sanitation infrastructure is problematic, as it impacts on the personal hygiene and safety of school children, and even impacts negatively on their learning. The South African Human Rights Commission and other recent research projects into childhood development have found that a lack of decent infrastructure infringes on the right to education,” says CDC programme manager Thembeka Poswa.
She adds that the Eastern Cape DoE strives to ensure that schools in the province have sufficient toilet and hand-washing facilities. “Every effort should be made to improve safety and privacy. School sanitation programmes not only impact on children’s access to education and development, but they are also essential to individuals’ ability to live and learn with dignity.”
The CDC appointed 11 contractors in February for the sanitation project, which will be completed in the second half of the year.
The CDC’s sanitation upgrade project will see the upgrade of 173 toilets at 14 schools in the Joe Gqabi district, 145 toilets at 26 schools in the Alfred Nzo district, 238 toilets at 27 schools in the Chris Hani district, 276 toilets at 19 schools in the OR Tambo district and 115 toilets at 22 schools in the Amathole district.
CDC marketing and communications head Dr Ayanda Vilakazi says urgent intervention is needed at schools in the Eastern Cape.
“A lack of access to toilets infringes on a child’s right to human dignity and, as a socioeconomic development agency, the CDC strives to affect positive change for communities in South Africa by undertaking infrastructure development or upgrade programmes on behalf of various government departments,” he asserts.
The CDC took on the construction of 25 schools in the Eastern Cape as part of the government-led Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative. Earlier this year, CDC had constructed 17 of these.
“This year, learners across the Eastern Cape started their school year in newly built schools thanks to the Eastern Cape DoE’s commitment to improving the learning and teaching environments for pupils,” says Vilakazi.
During the 2013/14 financial year, the CDC, through its Eastern Cape School Building Programme, delivered a total of 73 projects valued at R638-million on behalf of the Eastern Cape DoE.
This portfolio included emergency schools, early childhood centres, technical workshops and the eradication of mud structures throughout the Eastern Cape province.
In total, 27 schooling facilities were completed and handed over to clients and the communities that year.