Amnesty International South Africa has launched a tracker that will track and monitor the number of schools still relying on pit-toilets nationally.The international human rights NGO has stated that as it stands, more than 5000 schools are still reliant on pit-latrines as school toilets. The NGO asserts that the Department of Basic Education is downplaying the number of schools still using pit latrines. The department claimed that only 1423 schools still use these toilets in January. “The data that we get from the department of basic education is not reliable. From the annual data that we gather, more than 5000 schools still have pit toilets or do not have proper sanitation facilities. “If you look at the minister’s speech before the opening of schools, she cited a figure of about 1400 schools that have pit-toilets. So that shows you that they do not even understand the true nature of the problem,” Sibusiso Khasa, Amnesty International SA campaigner, said.
The pit-toilet tracker will track schools in every province, except for Gauteng and the Western Cape, as schools in the regions are the only two without pit-toilets.According to the NGO, Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal are the provinces where many schools still use the pit-latrines. “According to the information provided by the Human Rights Commission, at schools in Kwa-Zulu Natal, you find that 83% of schools in the province are still reliant on pit-toilets,” Khasa said. “Our main concern is that this affects many human rights, that’s not only the right to sanitation but the right to dignity, right to health and the right to life, as we have seen that the use of these facilities can be fatal,” he added. Amnesty International has said that their end goal with the tracker is for all forms of pit-toilets to be eradicated and to urge the education department to fix the schools’ ’poor’ infrastructure.