More than 128 000 of Western Cape pupils stayed away from school during taxi strike, says MEC

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Hundreds of thousands of Western Cape pupils missed school because of a taxi strike.
Hundreds of thousands of Western Cape pupils missed school because of a taxi strike.
  • More than 128 000 Western Cape pupils were kept home from school during the two-day taxi strike.
  • The strike also saw school staff stranded and unable to go to work.
  • Matric pupils were forced to write at alternative venues or were late for exams.

More than 128 000 children were kept home from school during a taxi strike in the Western Cape this week, the provincial education department has said.

Education MEC David Maynier said pupils had been "severely affected" by the taxi strike on Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday, 128 699 pupils in Grades 1 to 11 missed school, while on Tuesday, 128 747 did not attend.

“What this means is that the strike cost 11% of Grade 1 to 11 learners of the Western Cape two days of schooling,” said Maynier.

School staff were also negatively affected, with 2 435 missing work on Monday, and 1 965 on Tuesday.

"Most crucially, many schools had to reschedule exams, disrupting the end-of-year revision, marking, and administrative processes at our schools," Maynier added.

READ | Stellenbosch University council members call for Jonathan Jansen to be disciplined over 'racist' article

Matric pupils were, however, all able to write their National Senior Certificate exams, Maynier said. Two major exams were written on the two days of the strike, with more than 32 000 candidates sitting for Life Sciences Paper 2 on Monday and 27 000 for Geography Paper 2 on Tuesday.

More than 300 pupils had to write at alternative venues due to the strike, and 57 arrived late at exam centres on Monday. On Tuesday, 358 candidates wrote at an alternate exam centre and 57 were late for their exam.

Maynier said:

The fact that the exams went ahead as planned is a testament to the preparations our schools and districts have made to ensure that our candidates could get to their exams safely. I want to especially thank our principals and teachers for the way in which they took charge in developing and executing contingency plans for their learners to reach their exams, with great success.

However, he added that "other options should have been explored", instead of the taxi strike, to prevent the disruption to pupils.

READ | Cape Town taxi operators to return to work after 4 buses gutted in violent protests over 2 days

Taxi services resumed in the Western Cape on Wednesday. 

Taxi operators, under the umbrella of the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco), embarked on a strike on Monday, leaving thousands of commuters stranded. Four buses were gutted in the violent protests, and at least six people have been arrested. Police also confiscated 13 petrol bombs.

The strike followed an announcement that the provincial government's Blue Dot pilot project would be terminated at the end of the month. 

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