Parents, pupils shut down East London high school

Learners, teachers and SGB members outside Uviwe Senior Secondary in Scenery Park township. (Mbulelo Sisulu, GroundUp)
Learners, teachers and SGB members outside Uviwe Senior Secondary in Scenery Park township. (Mbulelo Sisulu, GroundUp)

East London - Parents and learners of Uviwe Senior Secondary in Scenery Park, East London, shut the school down on Monday. This came after their requests to the Department of Education for scholar transport went unanswered.

Uviwe Senior Secondary has, many times since 2009, asked the provincial government to provide the school with transport for its pupils, GroundUp reports.

According to the school governing body (SGB), the education department had failed to meet its own promise to provide transport for learners, like 18-year-old Thandile Gujulwa. He is among a group of learners that travels more than 8km to and from school. This is because there are no high schools in the East London suburb of Khayelitsha, where he lives.

On July 30, the SGB, parents and learner representatives met. They decided to close the school until the department provided Uviwe with scholar transport.
  
SGB treasurer Nwabisa Mgxwati told GroundUp that they were "sick and tired" of empty promises.

"Since 2009, this school has been applying for scholar transport. Our government wants something to happen first in order to act. There are many bodies that have been found in the bushes where [Gujulwa] travels through when he comes to school," she said.

Mgxwati said that they had informed the department last week of their intention to close the school until their demands were addressed. "We did not get answers from them," she said.

Student leader Sibulele Sinqane said that learners supported the shutdown.

"The final exams are just around the corner, but we [agree on] this decision. We cannot be happy while other kids risk their lives when they go to school," he said.

Fundiswa Jose, a Ward 5 committee member who deals with education in the Buffalo City Metro Municipality, said she was concerned after hearing about Gujulwa’s situation. Acting school principal Vuyani Mgqolozane said that there was nothing the school could do when parents and learners closed the gates on Monday morning.

Eastern Cape education department spokesperson, Mali Mtima, said the Department was aware of the matter. Mtima said that a committee had been set up to deal with the issues at Uviwe.

"We hope the committee will fast track this matter so that kids can go back to classrooms," he said.

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