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Keynote Address by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, MP, at the Official Sanitation Facilities Handover held at Mahlungulu Primary School, Eastern Cape, 02 April 2019

Programme Director

Principal

SGB Chairperson

Teachers and Leaners

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen   

 

Good Morning!

Molweni bantu baka Oliver Tambo!

It is a great honour to be present at this important handover of the spanking new ablution facilities that marks an end of a shameful era of pit latrines.

It gives me a great pleasure indeed to speak to you this morning to mark the second official handover of the new ablution facilities as part of our game-changer programme, the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE).

The overall objective of the SAFE initiative is to provide decent sanitation to all school-going learners.

Today, we are celebrating an outstanding example of collaboration between government and our social partners. We are celebrating the vision and the commitment of the Betram (Pty) Ltd. This innovative company has an impeccable record in the design and development of holistic, sustainable and ecologically friendly sanitation solutions.

It is a clear and irrefutable statement that the Betram (Pty) Ltd is concerned not only with matters of the bottom line, but it is a corporate player with a soul. I am happy to report that all these beautiful sanitation facilities have been 100% funded by the Betram (Pty) Ltd, otherwise known as Amalooloo. At the heart of this project is to enhance and restore the dignity of our learners and teachers.

It is a reminder of the important role that business continues to play in the rebuilding of our new society. Building a new nation requires the collective capacity of its people, big business included.

In the last five years working through the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), the private sector has invested over R1 billion in the basic education sector alone.

Throughout our history, business leaders with a clear conscience and driven by spirit of a better life for all have championed the cause of the poor and marginalised, the oppressed and the dispossessed. We know that Amalooloo senior executives answered the, ‘Thuma Mina’, Send Me call of the President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The initiatives that we are celebrating today contribute directly to at least two critical policy objectives of this administration – the improved quality of basic education and improved health outcomes.

Together, we must address with urgency backlogs in the provision of school and health infrastructure.

These backlogs in public infrastructure impact negatively on our children’s basic rights to a decent basic education and to health, safety and dignity within educational facilities. They impact on the right of our people to access to dignified sanitation, and, in the most severe cases, on their right to life and dignity.

The work that has been undertaken here at the Mahlungulu Primary School forms part of a broader national effort to build a positive school environment through Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE).

In building the new school infrastructure, we aim to create a positive school environment. This means a school having appropriate facilities, including dignified sanitation, well-managed classrooms, available school-based health support, and a clear, fair disciplinary policy.

We know from experience that poorly designed schools give an impression that learners are a reflection of their school: undervalued, and uncared for. And yet, the learners of our country are our most dear and most valued national asset – and they need to be treated as such as the President has repeatedly said.

Our action plan for basic education says that: “We must ensure that the physical infrastructure and environment of every school inspire learners to want to come to school and learn, and teachers to teach.”

Directly linked to the physical infrastructure, we are committed to use schools as vehicles for promoting access to a range of public services among learners in areas such as health, poverty alleviation, psychosocial support, sport and culture. That is why we have invested significantly in a package of care and support services available to all schools.

We are pleased that this school is part of our pro-poor initiatives, such as the no fee school policy and the National School Nutrition Programme.

If not yet done, we will be rolling out other programmes, such as the National School Deworming Programme and National School Hygiene Programme, among others.

In his speech at the opening of the Marobathota High School and Evelyn Lekganyane Clinic, at ZCC in Moria, President Ramaphosa said these programmes are not incremental; they are fundamental.

Programme Director; this actually marks the second official handover of sanitation facilities donated by the same private donor, namely Betram (Pty) Ltd popularly known by their unique patent, Amalooloo since SAFE initiative was launched in August 2018.

The new ablution facility reaches beyond the bricks and mortar of water and sanitation. These will spare learners and future generations of young South Africans of the indignity, discomfort and danger of using pit latrines. 

South Africa’s vision 2030 as captured in the National Development Plan (NDP), says by 2030, we must have provided universal access to piped water and access to hygienic toilets for all. To achieve the NDP lofty ideals, work must begin in earnest. We are convinced that decent sanitation will contribute to lessening the burden of diseases, achieving better health outcomes, and ultimately leading to a stronger and growing economy.

Since 1994, with the advent of democracy, we have been seized with the programme of reconstruction and development of our country.  Twenty five years later, we have to accept that given the sluggish economy, constrained fiscal environment and competing needs, we cannot achieve to build a new society we envisaged in 1994 alone as Government. We have therefore decided to harness the potential of all South Africans to lend a hand and Grow South Africa together.

In spite of this, and despite financial constraints, we have delivered water and sanitation to over 80 percent of our households.

This reaffirms our Government’s commitment to providing access to this basic human right.

Our stated mission to provide decent sanitation to all is also in line with the United Nations (UN) global agenda known as the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular Goal six 6 enjoins all governments to ensure that everyone has a safe toilet and that no-one practises open defecation by 2030. Failure to achieve this goal risks the entire Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Programme Director; at times (if not always) we tend to take the issue of sanitation and that of ablution facilities very lightly. Yet, the issue of decent sanitation for all is a matter of dignity and human rights.

Beyond that it has been proven that good hygiene practices and proper sanitation play a crucial role in promoting good health thus lessening the burden of diseases.

For us as education sector, hygiene and sanitation are critical as they directly affect the learning outcomes. Studies show that proper sanitation and good hygiene practices increases learner participation in class while reducing absenteeism due to illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia.

Programme Director, the health, social and educational consequences of poor hygiene is well established, here are some examples of evidence.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
poor hygiene and sanitation facilities are a barrier to retention of learners in school. Diarrhea and respiratory tract infections are associated with poor hygiene and are contributing to child mortality. However, improved sanitation and hygiene in schools at a global level has been linked to improvements in children’s educational performance, reduction in absenteeism, especially for girls, and improved retention rates amongst teachers (UNICEF, 2009).

Other eminent educational researchers have said that the burden of diseases and mortality rates amongst school-going age learners could be reduced by about 9.1% and 6.3%, respectively, if rapid success is attained in facilitating access to water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities.

Other cost effective method in reducing the burden of diseases, is a humble activity of washing hands with soap after every toilet visit.

It is the most cost effective way of reducing diseases thus promoting good hygiene and good health.

I am pleased to say through SAFE, our flagship sanitation initiative, coupled with the National School Hygiene Programme; and the National School Deworming Programme, we are beginning to get our ducks in a row. Together with our corporate players and social justice activists, we have the right energy, resources and expertise to tackle this challenge.

Although, the task before us is daunting, we need to harness the energy, expertise and the passion of all stakeholders in addressing the issue of sanitation, and its attended side effects.

Together, posterity will remember us as a generation that made pit latrines and poor hygiene a thing of the past. 

It is critical for us to succeed, not for ourselves but for future generation of learners.

I caution that we avoid swings and roundabouts – where we build decent sanitation in the midst of falling general infrastructure of the schools.

Hence, I have called for a rethink of the model of infrastructure delivery in the education sector. It will be foolhardy indeed, if we were to persist with the present fragmented infrastructure delivery models that have failed to yield desirable results.

We don’t want a situation of falling at the final hurdle by 2030 where it is envisaged that our country would have met global developmental goals.   

Our recent audit (2018) of sanitation services in the schooling sector indicates around 3898 schools still use the dangerous pit latrines and other inappropriate ablution facilities.

At least 2000 schools have insufficient sanitation facilities that require some form of refurbishments. In response to this emergency, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Sanitation Appropriate for Education - or SAFE – initiative in August last year. The President has undertaken to eradicate all pit latrines within the next three years.

In his Budget Speech, our Minister of Finance, Mr. Tito Mboweni allocated R700 million for the 2019/20 financial year. 

Given the scale and fact that we are hard pressed for time, we are continuously mobilising all available resources. These include pledges from business, strategic partners, and the construction industry to replace all unsafe toilets in public schools.

As announced in the President Ramaphosa's economic recovery plan speech during September, 2018, some 1,150 sanitation projects are for funded for the 2019 financial year.

Since we launched the SAFE initiative some 234 projects out of 3 898 have reached practical completion. In addition some 415 SAFE initiatives are being implemented in the current financial year through the provincial infrastructure programmes and ASIDI.

Outside of the SAFE Initiative, a further 787 sanitation provincial projects are at practical and final completion in the 2018/19 financial year.

Through the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) some 226 sanitation projects and 21 inappropriate structures have reached practical completion in this current financial year.

The rest of the sanitation projects, both for this year and next financial year are either in planning, design or construction stages. As Government, we are determined to eradicate unsafe and inappropriate sanitation facilities within the next three years.

In conclusion, our singular goal for any partnerships in education is to create space for social partners and the business community to assist in realising the achievement of Delivery Outcome 1. i.e. “Improved Quality of Basic Education”.

Lastly, we extend our gratitude to all private sector partners who have launched various initiatives under the SAFE umbrella. This is an outstanding example of collaboration between Government and business sector. Our ultimate objective is to address with urgency a great need that impacts on our children’s right to decent sanitation, health, safety and dignity within educational facilities.

I thank you.

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 4/2/2019
Number of Views: 763

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