‘No tarred road, no school’: Motshekga intervenes in vain

2014-08-27 19:02

Angry communities demanding more than 200km of tarred roads before they can allow their children to go back to school have refused to budge from their stance of “no tarred road, no school”.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga today tried in vain to convince the leaders of the tarred road protest to allow children to go back to school. Motshekga today visited the community of Glen Red village outside Kuruman in John Taolo Gaetsewe District, Northern Cape, after failed attempts by the Northern Cape government to get the protesters to allow schooling to resume.

The communities are demanding that a network of rough gravel roads linking their villages and national roads leading to towns be tarred for easy access.

Motshekga tried in vain to make the community prioritise their children’s education over roads infrastructure.

“The community insist that they want roads before schools can reopen. The minister explained the importance of education and that they should allow schooling to resume but they refused,” said Motshekga’s spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.

SABC News reported that the minister was “heckled and instructed to tell President Jacob Zuma to help build the roads”.

Matriculants are left with only 24 days before the examination starts.

A parent who spoke to City Press after the meeting said “clearly they were not ready to hear anything other than when the contractor will be on site”.

“The community did not mince their words when they told the minister that there won’t be any schooling unless they see some work under way on roads in question. They told her they were tired of empty promises and they were not ready to take any of it anymore,” he said.

“The minister tried her best to show them that learners and especially matriculants were likely to repeat their class and as such they would have had their future put on hold. They do understand what’s at stake but the community want a contractor on site and nothing else.”

A matriculant who also attended the meeting said it was “sad listening to our own communities showing no much regard of our future”.

“We are fully behind the demand for better roads but why make us suffer this much. Now it is up to the department to decide whether they deregister us or arrange a study camp for us ... and our prayer is for a study camp to be organised for us.”

The Northern Cape education department has previously said there were no funds available for a study camp. The province has had to intervene every year since 2012 whenever schooling was affected in service delivery protests in areas around Kuruman.

The department’s spokesperson Sidney Stander said earlier this month that they were also considering deregistering matriculants to enable them to start afresh next year.

More than 50 schools were forced to shut down almost three months ago, affecting 16 455 learners. At least 469 of them are matriculants from eight high schools. Attempts to contact the Northern Cape education department and the local committee of the Road Forum failed.

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