Rural school kids need transport, says advocacy group

2015-04-09 20:34

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Pietermaritzburg - Advocacy group Equal Education called on the KwaZulu-Natal education department on Thursday to provide transport facilities, especially for learners in the rural areas.

Equal Education members, with learners from Nquthu in Northern KwaZulu-Natal marched to the education department offices in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, warning that many pupils face dangers of possible violence, even death when walking to school.

The issue of a safe mode of learner transport has come into sharp focus in the past weeks following a string of accidents, including the death of eight pupils who were in a van in Imbali Township in January this year.

One learner at the march, Siphelele Thusini, 17, spoke of a daily trip of 24km when going to school.

“It is almost a given that as winter approaches I will be missing the first lesson because I am either late or am tired after walking such a distance,” said the Mangeni High School Grade 11 pupil.

Aside from the long distance, learners and teachers are also exposed to danger from natural elements such as lightning strikes or drownings during summer.

“One of our teachers died when his car was swept away when trying to cross a river after heavy rains a few years ago,” Siphelele recalled.

According to Equal Education, a male pupil was allegedly raped this year on his way to school because he had to go through the bush.

“The fact of the matter is that the department is aware of such problems, but just appears to be doing nothing about it,” said Equal Education’s Sandile Ndlovu.

Nquthu falls under uMzinyathi District, one of the districts that do not produce outstanding matric results.

Ndlovu said there was a link between the results and availability of facilities including transport.

“If learners cannot make it to school because rivers are overflowing or are missing some classes at the start of the day, surely there will be a decline in performance,” Ndlovu insisted.

The advocacy group has suggested that accommodation facilities should be built at the affected schools in order to deal with the problem of long distance travel for some pupils.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  education

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