PRETORIA– South Africa’s Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, is to convene an urgent meeting with provincial Members of Executive Council (MECs) in charge of education and the heads of provincial education departments to discuss school infrastructure and find ways to accelerate the eradication of unsafe toilet facilities in particular.

This follows the tragic death of a five-year-old pupil, Lumka Mkhethwa, also known as Viwe Jali, from Luna Primary School in Bizana in Eastern Cape Province, who died after falling into a pit latrine at her school. Motshekga has received a report from the district education office regarding the tragic death of Jali.

The Department of Basic Education said in a statement here Monday: It has always been the view and the position of the Minister that safe and decent facilities, which include sanitation, do not only provide a conducive environment for teaching and learning, but are fundamental to the dignity and human rights of both learners and teachers.

In view of the fact that maintenance and construction of infrastructure is constitutionally a Provincial Government competency, the Minister is calling for an urgent meeting with Provincial Education Departments to determine the best way to support, and work with provinces to ensure President Ramaphosa’s directive is addressed.”

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa directed Motshekga to conduct an audit of all school facilities with unsafe structuresS especially unsafe toilet facilitiesS within a month, and to present him with a plan to rectify the challengesS as an emergency interim measure while rolling out proper infrastructureS within three months.