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WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY AD HOC COMMITTEE
4 June 2004
DEPARTMENT BUDGET: HEARINGS
Chair: Mr. B.M. Komphela (ANC)
The following documents are available:
Presentation by Department of Education
The Department of Education presented on water and sanitation issues in schools in the Free State province.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had invited provinces to look at how the budget would affect the quality of sanitation in their respective areas. He introduced Mr. Liomo, from the Department of Education in the Free State province. He asked Mr. Liomo for his opinions on the budget and recommendations on how the Committee could make sanitation more available at the school level.
Presentation by Department of Education - Free State
Mr. T Liomo thought they were aware of the battle the Department was facing. He was happy that the current minister had made this issue a priority. The Free State province, he said, was the second poorest province in South Africa. Of the 2,097 schools in Free State, 62% were in rural areas. Moreover, of the R4.5 billion budget, R3.9 billion was used to pay salaries. Mr. Liomo also mentioned that there were 34,000 orphans in the Free State. Mr. Liomo said that the majority of the orphans were being provided for. They were exempt from school fees; however to continue this fee exemption the schools needed larger budgets. He said that over the next three years close to R9 million would be needed for water and sanitation costs.
Questions and answers
The Chairperson thanked Mr. Liomo for the well-presented information.
Mr. ID Mogase (ANC) asked for further information regarding learners in the primary school figures. He wanted to know if they included rural, special, and combined schools. He asked for further clarity on the charts in the presentation. Also, he asked if the term "no water site" meant that there was no water in the schools and, if that was the case, Mr. Mogase wanted to know how schools coped without water.
To clarify the chart, Mr. Liomo stated that each reference to a toilet block indicated 15 - 20 seats. He said that instead of using the phrase "toilet block" he should have mentioned the number of seats. Mr. Liomo also said that schools without water depended on rain-catching tanks.
Mrs. ML Ngwenya (ANC) said she was surprised to hear that the Free State was the second poorest province in the country. She asked Mr. Liomo which province was the poorest. She then referred to page two of the presentation and asked Mr. Liomo what kind of model he had in mind for the toilet block. She asked if he meant a big trench. Also, she wanted to know what type of flushing mechanism the toilets would have. Mrs. Ngwenya said it was important to use a model that saved water and that was easy to maintain. Children frequently are not accustomed to toilet flushes so they continue flushing the toilet over again, sometimes damaging the toilet. Also, she said, flush toilets have high water consumption. She then expressed concern that in some cases DWAF gave the budget for a particular project over to the local government. She wanted to know what the Department of Education's relationship was to local governments. She commented that it was the Department's responsibility to make a partnership with the local government. She said that the issue of who had responsibility over toilets was confusing. In most instances it could either be Public Works, Water Affairs, or Education. Finally, as Mr. Liomo had mentioned the Department of Education's relationship with Agriculture and Social Development, Mrs. Ngwenya wanted to know what the Department of Education had contributed to the aforementioned partnerships.
Mr. Liomo replied that he believed the Eastern Cape was the poorest province. Mr. Liomo said that there was new technology that allowed for flush toilets that did not consume large amounts of water. When municipalities built the schools, he said, they had all of the facilities. However, vandalism in the schools was a major problem. Also, in some cases toilets were not used properly and objects were thrown into the toilets, eventually blocking the toilets and rendering them non-functional. He then told the Committee that his responsibility was to make sure that facilities were in place to create an environment conducive to learning and teaching. The Department of Public Works was the executing arm of the Department of Education. These two entities needed to build stronger relationships with DWAF and with local municipalities.
Mr. MW Sibuyana (IFP) remarked that Mr. Liomo had delivered a well-prepared budget. He expressed concern that toilets were in place in some areas but that they were not functional because of a lack of water. He asked Mr. Liomo if there was enough available water to make toilets functional if they were to be built. He also asked about the Department's relationship with local governments. He said that there needed to be people from the Department who were responsible for implementation so that they could confirm that certain things were accomplished.
Mr. ID Mogase (ANC) asked if they had had help from parents, CBO's, and/or businesses.
Mr. Liomo stated that the budget was problematic. There is not enough money to accomplish what they need to. When he joined the Department almost 90% of the budget was earmarked for salaries. The Department was now trying to reduce personal expenditure; however unions now want more resources.
A member said that he came from Soweto. The schools there were in a horrible state of affairs. He recalled that Mr. Liomo had said that even if they installed proper facilities, vandalism would still be an issue. He wanted to know if the Department received budget proposals from schools. He also told him that next time he may want to bring more people with him to field questions.
Mr. Liomo replied that they did receive budgets from schools but that their needs far outweighed the Department's budget. He said they had the necessary information; the problem was that they had limited resources from the Treasury. He said he was sure that the Committee would take these issues to Trevor Manuel. He said that to prevent people from taking advantage of the money they offered in communities, they often bought supplies (paint, cleaning agents, etc) instead of offering money.
Mr. Mabuyakhulu (ANC) addressed the issue of toilet paper in schools. He said that the lack of toilet paper in black schools affected hygiene. He recalled that teachers sometimes use school funds to buy themselves toilet paper, while students must resort to other means to clean themselves. In effect, the ones who needed it most did not have it. Mr. Mabuyakhulu also asked Mr. Liomo to clarify page six of the presentation.
Mr. Liomo replied that the honorable member had expressed a reality in their schools. In regards to page six, the picture showed a typical pitch toilet structure as seen in the Free State and throughout the country.
Chairperson Komphela asked what the school policy was around the provisioning of toilet paper. He asked if special schools for disabled learners had proper facilities since those were at-risk children. He commented that Mr. Liomo had given a thorough, well-delivered presentation and that it was a pity that they didn't have similar information for the rest of the country. He expressed concern over whether the objectives set for the government would be met.
Mr. Masala asked what the Department's position was about security personnel to prevent vandalism.
Mr. Mabuyakhulu asked if any other provinces were coming to make presentations.
The Chairperson replied that all nine provinces had been informed. The Western cape had not yet responded. The Eastern Cape sent a list of schools without proper facilities but there was no supplemental information.
The Chairperson then adjourned the meeting.