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Statement of the Congress of South African Students after 1st National Working Committee Meeting

The students’ body says the unsanitary conditions of school toilets in poor urban neighboruhoods and in rural areas have remained unchanged 21 years after the end of apartheid.

10 March 2015

The Congress of South African Students (COSAS) has ended its first National Working Committee Meeting which, amongst other issues, resolved on declaring March as the month of addressing the burning question of the state of school toilets in South Africa. The National Working Committee declared March as the month of School Toilets. COSAS throughout the month will be focused on addressing the matter in various platforms.

As a students’ movement we have produced a formal document which speaks to the state of toilets in our schools. In the document, the organization notes the dire condition of toilets in most schools, with statistics from the department of basic education portraying that the worst conditions of toilets in schools are found in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces.

In the deliberations of the Congress on the debacle, the elephant in the room has always been the dangerous and hazardous nature of the toilets and how they continue to also strip off dignity of the learners and teachers in schools. As a movement we have made a comparison of the nature of toilets during the apartheid era and today in a democratic and supposedly free country. We noted that the status quo still remains with schools in the rural areas and townships still breathing inequality when compared to former Model-C and private schools. The standards still remain unequal, 21 years into our democracy.

The Congress of South African Students has recommended the following:

1. Building of toilets in all schools in South Africa, as there are schools without toilets at all
2. It must be ensured that there is a caretaker or cleaner employed in every school to ensure toilets are properly maintained
3. There should be regular unannounced inspections of toilets in schools by external personnel
4. The department of health must work with the department of basic education in educating about illnesses and diseases which can be acquired through utilizing dirty toilets
5. Investment on a program to renovate existing toilets in schools which are no longer in an acceptable condition by the department of basic education and department of public works
6. The Congress of South African Students to run a campaign of teaching learners about the importance of using toilets responsibly

The organization calls for the implementation of the Norms and Standards of Infrastructure as stipulated in the South African Schools Act. The students’ movement also calls for the compliance with the Water Services Act when it comes to sanitation in schools. We further call for the South African Government, particularly the department of Basic education to ensure that South African School toilets comply with the standards set by Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) on school toilets which is a campaign being pushed by formations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.

Issued by the Congress of South African Students


COSAS president
Sandra Baloyi: 079 149 0157

COSAS Secretary General Office
Khulekani Skosana: 082 346 7959
Zama Khanyase: 071 607 3959