Pupils stage tune­ful trans­port protest

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - VIRGILATTE GWANGWA

ABOUT 250 pupils from KwaZu­luNatal and Gaut­eng raised their plac­ards high, sang, chanted and pick­eted out­side the Depart­ment of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion yes­ter­day. Dur­ing their picket, pupils un­der the um­brella of Equal Ed­u­ca­tion de­manded the im­ple­men­ta­tion of na­tional scholar trans­port.

They said that in KZN, schools were far from their homes which meant pupils had to walk for about two hours to get there. By the time they get to school they are ex­hausted which af­fects their con­cen­tra­tion.

How­ever, KZN rep­re­sen­ta­tive Samke­lisiwe Kunene said they never thought that walk­ing long dis­tances to school was one of the things that caused pupils to fail.

“Equal Ed­u­ca­tion came to us in 2014 and told us that one of the rea­sons pupils failed was be­cause they walked long dis­tances. And since they high­lighted that is­sue, we started to re­alise that in­deed walk­ing many hours af­fected our stud­ies,” she said.

Kunene said that af­ter numerous protests de­mand­ing scholar trans­port, the depart­ment sup­plied buses to three schools in their vil­lage but she said the buses were not enough.

Chil­dren from their vil­lage at­tended many dif­fer­ent schools, she added.

KZN pupils were from Nquthu vil­lage and said they left the vil­lage as early as 4am to get to the city yes­ter­day.

Those from Gaut­eng were from ar­eas in Joburg.

“Nquthu has many schools and three buses are sim­ply not enough so Mama Angie (Mot­shekga). we ask that you give us that money. We do not want food, in­fra­struc­ture or any­thing; all we need is scholar trans­port,” Kunene said.

“Man­dela walked so I don’t have to”; “No more five hours or 10km (walks) to school – enough is enough”; and “Less walk­ing more learn­ing”, were some of the mes­sages writ­ten on pupils’ plac­ards.

Equal Ed­u­ca­tion’s head of na­tional or­gan­is­ing Luy­olo Mazwembe said min­is­ter Mot­shekga had pub­licly promised to im­ple­ment the na­tional scholar trans­port but noth­ing has been done. “Now we are say­ing that we want to see en­gage­ments be­tween the depart­ment and Trea­sury re­gard­ing a con­di­tional grant and they must re­spond to us by Oc­to­ber 30,” he said.

Mazwembe said: “The rea­son we are do­ing this is be­cause there are a lot of learn­ers be­ing killed, kid­napped and raped while on their way to school.”

Granville Whit­tle, deputy direc­tor-gen­eral for scholar trans­port, ac­cepted the me­moran­dum on be­half of the min­is­ter and promised to re­spond by Oc­to­ber 30 as asked by pupils.

Pupils march to the Depart­ment of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion to hand over a me­moran­dum de­mand­ing trans­port.

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