Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is pleased to award a GLAD[1] to GroundUp for its article, “Pit latrines at schools: ‘When you return to class, the smell of the poo remains in your clothes’” (18/02/2022) which highlights an important issue that threatens the health and safety of scholars. The GLAD is also awarded because the article includes a child’s voice.

The article is written by Mkhuseli Sizani and is also published on the News24 website. The story reports of the devastatingly lack of proper sanitation at Mtakatye and Lwandile Junior secondary schools in the Eastern Cape.

According to the article, the learners at the two schools are left to relieve themselves in the open fields because the toilets provided are not safe to use.

Sinawo Mkhamndeli, a 17-year-old Grade 8 learner from one of the schools is quoted saying, “The state of our toilets is terrible. They stink and are very deep. The walls and roofs shake on windy days. The doors are broken. Sometimes we find snakes because there is tall grass next to the toilets.”

The article also interviews and questions the various levels of authority within the schooling system, from the principal, school governing body chairperson to the provincial education department spokesperson.

A quote from the Equal Education (EE) provincial head of organising, Itumeleng Mothlabane states, “According to the 2021 National Education Infrastructure Management System report there are still 1473 schools in the Eastern Cape that have plain pit latrines that need to be replaced, with 944 of those schools having no sanitation facilities besides these illegal plain pit latrines.”

By reporting the article, the journalist highlights the gruesome but real and life-threatening situation that learners face when they go to school and, the long-standing issue of lack of service delivery facing schools in the Eastern Cape. MMA commends the journalist for reporting an issue that affects children thereby potentially enabling redress by duty-bearers and policy makers.

We also applaud the journalist for reporting the story with a child’s voice. It is important to report such stories with children’s voices as the children are able to enrich the stories with their perspectives. Further, children should be accessed in such stories affecting them so that their issues can be addressed from a child rights angle.

We look forward to reading more articles which include children’s voices and interrogate the different levels of power.  Well done!

Written by Phakamile Madonsela

Edited by Lister Namumba

[1] A GLAD is awarded to the media for reporting on children where the children are accessed etc