Polokwane – Many Vuwani pupils will have to take their lessons under trees this winter while some will have to repeat the academic year, a humanitarian organisation said on Tuesday.
While protests in area, about 40km south of Thohoyandou, may have calmed, pupils and parents were still feeling the effects of the violent protests that erupted in May, national director of World Vision SA, Paula Barnard, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Christian humanitarian organisation said almost 3 000 children from seven schools in its Thusalushaka development programme catchment area were affected by the protests.
The destruction started on April 29, when the Masia Traditional Council lost a court application to set aside the Municipal Demarcation Board's decision to merge the underperforming Vuwani municipality with parts of the Malamulele municipality in the Vhembe district.
Barnard said the first-term records of some matric pupils had been destroyed and they had been unable to prepare for the mid-year exams. They would very likely have to repeat the year.
Not enough mobile classrooms
Barnard said some parents were unable to take their children to school because they felt intimidated. If they did so, they were branded spies and made outcasts.
She said 30 schools were burnt down or destroyed during the protests.
Although government was providing mobile classrooms, it was not enough and some children were being taught under trees. Some parents had sent their children to relatives out of fear of being attacked by other residents.
World Vision SA workers were not able to reach some schools during an effort to assess the scale of the problem because of hostile locals.
"Police have also warned workers against visiting the villages as it might aggravate angry community members and result in more destruction."
Nearly 53 000 pupils were affected by the protests and wider shutdowns.