No end in sight as ‘no road, no school’ protest continues

2014-09-04 13:47

Teachers have returned to work in the Northern Cape where communities are staging a “no road, no school” protest, but it remains to be seen whether pupils will return to class.

It’s been about a week since the teachers returned to their posts after the government urged them to resume teaching despite fears for their lives.

The communities are demanding that a network of roads linking their villages and connecting them to towns such as Kuruman and Vryburg be tarred.

Attempts by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to convince the communities to allow schools to reopen drew a blank recently. (

Pupils from 54 schools in parts of John Taolo Gaetsewe municipality outside Kuruman were forced to stay away, teachers were threatened and infrastructure was torched at some schools. This resulted in 16 455 learners losing out on at least three months of schooling.

Of these, 469 are in Grade 12 and they are supposed to be preparing for the final exams, which are starting in about three weeks’ time. (

The pupils have already missed out on writing mid-year examinations and, subsequently, the continuous school-based assessments due to lost teaching time.

A teacher said they returned to work on Monday but had nothing much to do as there were no pupils.

“We are reporting for duty only to sit around. We’re still worried about our safety but we could not stay away when the employer ordered us back,” he said.

“We can only hope that this whole thing is resolved soon, especially for the sake of matriculants. They need all the help they can get and the community needs to realise that their future is at stake.”

The Northern Cape education department was yet to decide on the fate of the affected matriculants.

“At this stage, the reality is that time has caught up with us and it is clear that a study camp is not feasible considering that the trial exams started today and that we still do not have learners at our schools. However, should parents release learners we are still committed to find ways of helping them,” said provincial education spokesperson Sidney Stander today.

“Since Monday our teachers have responded to the instruction to report for duty and we continue to monitor the situation. We are clear that the situation is completely calm in terms of our own assessment and that any teacher who is threatened or intimidated should open a case with the police and produce a case number to that effect.”

Stander said teachers were required to “continue to prepare and plan in terms of how they are going to cover lost time and cover content in their own subjects as part of assisting our learners”.

If it comes to the point where they have to deregister matriculants, Stander said they would need the go-ahead from Motshekga and parents would also be consulted.

“If parents agree and the minister concurs, then we can register them as part-time students, which means they will write supplementary [exams] in February and March 2015. This will give us enough time to support them adequately,” he said.

“Second, we can re-register them, in which case they will remain in [the] system but will be treated as part-time students. This, of course, depends on the minister giving permission to the province.”

Meanwhile, a matriculant from Dithakong village said she continued to study with a few classmates. She said they did not feel that they were ready for the examinations.

“We’re trying on our own but it is not enough. We need a teacher’s guidance and right now we’re in the dark on whether we’ll end up writing the final examinations or not.”

A parent from the village confirmed that the community remained steadfast in their position that there would be no schooling until a contractor was seen on site.

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