Vuwani: pleas to re­sume school­ing ig­nored

CityPress - - News - POLOKO TAU poloko.tau@city­press.co.za

Newly ac­quired mo­bile class­rooms re­mained unused in Vuwani, with learn­ers en­ter­ing the sev­enth week of no school­ing to­mor­row amid an im­passe over borders that were re­drawn to es­tab­lish a new mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

More than 2 000 ma­tric­u­lants have al­ready missed out on writ­ing their midyear ex­am­i­na­tions.

The Lim­popo gov­ern­ment has made a des­per­ate plea for Vuwani’s protest­ing com­mu­ni­ties to al­low school­ing to re­sume so that a catch-up plan for lost teach­ing time can be im­ple­mented.

Pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment spokesper­son Phuti Seloba said although re­sources and plans were in place, in­clud­ing a study camp for ma­tric­u­lants, the prov­ince was pow­er­less.

“Our hands are tied. We can­not just take learn­ers on a study camp some­where in the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion as it may leave their par­ents in a com­pro­mised po­si­tion,” he said.

“Teach­ers have been in­tim­i­dated, and like­wise, we can­not force them to re­port for duty when they have raised se­ri­ous safety con­cerns.

“We are plead­ing with bleed­ing hearts to com­mu­nity lead­ers to take into con­sid­er­a­tion th­ese chil­dren’s fu­ture, which is cur­rently at the risk of be­ing de­layed by a year.

“We do not want to see any child re­peat their grade next year ... We have a chance now to res­cue their aca­demic year only if the com­mu­ni­ties can co­op­er­ate with us.”

Seloba said it would not be pos­si­ble to catch up on lost teach­ing time over the June hol­i­days or week­ends alone. “An in­ten­sive catch-up plan is ready, but we can­not move to im­ple­ment any­thing in the cur­rent hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment.”

Fol­low­ing the torch­ing of 24 schools, along with oth­ers dam­aged ear­lier last month, the prov­ince es­ti­mated re­pair costs at R310 mil­lion. It has al­ready spent R22.4 mil­lion on buy­ing 76 mo­bile class­rooms. With not much hope that a de­ci­sion to lift the shut­down will be made by the com­mu­ni­ties, more than 40 000 pupils are fac­ing the prospect of re­peat­ing grades next year.

Peo­ple from a clus­ter of vil­lages around Vuwani were an­gered by a court rul­ing that up­held the mu­nic­i­pal de­mar­ca­tion board’s de­ci­sion to have Vuwani ar­eas in­cor­po­rated into a new mu­nic­i­pal­ity with Mala­mulele. Protest­ing com­mu­ni­ties want to re­main in Makhado mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Although tra­di­tional lead­ers had taken the mat­ter to the Con­sti­tu­tional Court, it did not seem likely that the mora­to­rium on schools was go­ing to be sus­pended, pend­ing the out­come.

In a bid to as­sist learn­ers in his area, tra­di­tional leader Chief Livhuwani Mat­sila has part­nered with dis­as­ter re­lief group Gift of the Givers to re­pair dam­aged schools and of­fer classes to ma­tric­u­lants at a com­mu­nity-owned lodge in Mat­sila vil­lage.

Lam­bast­ing the de­ci­sion to shut down schools, he said that although he was also sub­jected to in­tim­i­da­tion for not sup­port­ing it, he was un­de­terred. “No tra­di­tional leader will be happy about in­sta­bil­ity and no school­ing ... Some of us are not go­ing to be part of that bar­baric prac­tice where peo­ple gamble with our chil­dren’s fu­ture.”

Nsovo Sambo, a com­mu­nity leader in Vye­boom vil­lage, dis­agreed, say­ing the ef­fect of the lock­down was big­ger than just school­ing. “We are not us­ing schools to lever­age our strug­gle. We also have pen­sion­ers who are un­able to col­lect their grants from their pay points and small busi­nesses are los­ing out.

“Ev­ery­one is get­ting af­fected. This is the sacri­fice we have agreed on,” he said.

PHOTO: FELIX DLANGAMANDLA

STALLED Mo­bile class­rooms ar­rive in Vuwani. Nkosi Livhuwani Mat­sila (in­set) is of­fer­ing lessons in his vil­lage

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