Pupils stage tuneful transport protest
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.