Equal Education demands that asbestos schools be replaced

Equal Education members are calling for schools made out of asbestos or tin be replaced. (Photo: Zoë Postman)

On Thursday afternoon about 50 Equal Education members picketed outside the Gauteng education department in Marshalltown, Johannesburg, GroundUp reports.

They demanded that MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi prioritise the replacement of all classrooms built, both entirely and partially, from asbestos.

In a memorandum, Equal Education said the department had prioritised 29 schools made entirely from asbestos to be replaced by 2020.

But, said the memo, the department’s plan was “wholly insufficient”. It demanded that all schools made entirely, or even partially, from asbestos should be fixed by this deadline.

“The dangers of asbestos are so severe that any school infrastructure made out of asbestos, even partially, should be a priority… it is inhumane to continue to risk the health of [pupils], teachers, school administrative staff and the school’s community through continued exposure to asbestos,” read the memo.

Remember Xikubane, a Grade 12 pupil at Amos Maphanga Secondary School in Benoni, said the department expected pupils to deliver results, but it did not deliver on its promises to fix school infrastructure.

“At Amos Maphanga, the toilets are tin, the classrooms are tin, the office is tin, the kitchen is tin, the storeroom is tin. Nothing is serious here. We don’t have a library. We have nothing… we want the department to know that we as [pupils] of Amos Maphanga, want a proper education like other [pupils],” said Xikubane.

Chief of staff of the department, Oupa Bodibe, came out to sign and collect the memorandum.

He said Equal Education would receive feedback in two weeks.