Schools to remain open despite Day Zero concerns

Picture: Matthews Baloyi

Provincial government is adamant schools will stay open should Day Zero come and that schools remain an important part of defeating Day Zero.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has, however, been criticised for its lack of transparency regarding plans to manage the current water crisis.

According to Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for Education MEC Debbie Schafer, provincial government intends to ensure that schools remain open and operational should Day Zero be reached in the

The department had issued guidelines to schools on November 7 last year and again earlier this month as the City introduced Level 6 water restrictions.

Day Zero, the day the city’s taps will be turned off, has been pushed back to Monday April 16. The water crisis has been gaining international media attention but the department is adamant that schools will function as normal.

Premier Helen Zille will also meet with the principals of all schools in the greater Cape Town, Drakenstein, Stellenbosch and West Coast municipalities (that draw water from the Western Cape Water Supply system).

Detailed plans for securing water supply to schools will be discussed with the leadership of these sectors.

“There are about 1 000 schools within this area. The provincial government has conducted an assessment of the approximately 400 schools with existing boreholes. The majority of these boreholes require minimal work to operationalise for hygiene and fire safety purposes.

“Plans are currently being finalised for schools that require additional support to secure their water supply. A range of measures are under consideration, including additional water storage and the distribution of water to schools,” said Ms Shelver.

The WCED also said they would be placing water restrictor metres at schools and that schools were expected to have a water management plan, focusing mainly on saving water in ablution facilities.

“Schools need to close certain taps in ablution facilities and may procure hand sanitizers using funds allocated to schools in terms of national norms and standards,” Ms Shelver said.

But in a statement issued to the media, activist organisation Equal Education (EE) said they would like the WCED to conclusively demonstrate, through detailed plans, that it is ready for Day Zero.

The organisaiton also criticised Ms Schafer and WCED Head of Department Brian Schreuder for being overseas on business trips for two weeks.

“Premier Zille has rightly criticised Minister of Water Nomvula Mokonyane for being out of the country during this period of water crisis, in order to attend the inauguration of George Weah as President of Liberia. EE’s concerns here are similar,” the organisation said.

Meanwhile, schools in the area are implementing different water saving measures and some are even introducing water conservation into the curriculum.

Principal of Camps Bay Primary School, Stuart Collier said the school was introducing water education to their pupils.

Principal of St Paul’s Primary in Bo-Kaap, Yeye Mgudlwa, said they have encouraged pupils to bring water bottles and sanitising wipes to school. She also said that they were looking forward to the meeting with Premier Helen Zille, that was set to take place yesterday, Wednesday January 31.