Parents block school entrance in Cofimvaba after scholar transport cancelled

Most of the affected learners live in St Mark’s, about 26 kilometres from Isikhoba Nombewu Technical School

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Parents picket at the entrance to Isikhoba Nombewu Technical School, in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape, demanding that their children’s scholar transport be reinstated. Photo: Manqulo Nyakombi

  • Over 100 parents picketed in the road outside Isikhoba Nombewu Technical School, in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape to demand scholar transport.
  • Most of the affected learners live in St Mark’s which is about 26 kilometres from the school.
  • They had been relying on the provincial government’s scholar transport programme until it was cancelled.
  • The provincial transport department said the learners should go to the high school closer to where they live. But parents are worried about gang violence at the other school.

More than 100 parents and guardians picketed at the entrance to Isikhoba Nombewu Technical School, in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape, to demand scholar transport.

Parents accuse the Eastern Cape Department of Education of cancelling transport for learners on the St Mark’s to Nombewu route without consulting them. This has resulted in about 80 learners missing classes.

St Mark’s is about 26 kilometres from Isikhoba village where the technical school is based. According to parents, it costs about R1,500 per month per child for private transport to school.

When GroundUp arrived on Thursday, picketers were chanting and holding up placards in the middle of the gravel road which leads to the school. Learners and teachers watched from a distance as scholar transport taxis were also parked nearby.

Protesters said they had to wake up at 4am to hitchhike to arrive at the school before 6am.

“Our children are now forced to stay at home in the middle of the year because the department is refusing to pay the scholar transport,” said Notaimile Galelana, who cares for her two grandchildren who attend the school.

She said that her granddaughters had been using the scholar transport for two years until a few weeks ago when the school said they would now have to pay.

“When we asked why, we were told that the department had cancelled the route. We were never informed. These children depend on me. My social grant will never cover the transport fee,” she said, in tears.

Galelana said the family lives in Qamata, Bolokodlela village, 24 kms away from the school. “Now they will be forced to walk. Government is setting our children up for failure and they are going to be raped,” she said.

Parent Nowongile Kaziwa said Isikhoba Nombewu is the only technical school close to their village. “When we took our children to this school there was scholar transport, now we are told there’s no transport. We are not given an explanation,” she said.

One grade 9 learner told GroundUp he was worried about missing vital lessons as the June exams are around the corner. “Our parents can’t afford to pay scholar transport…I so wish our parents had been told in January about this, not now,” she said.

Eastern Cape education department spokesman Malibongwe Mtima referred GroundUp’s questions to the transport department.

Eastern Cape Department of Roads and Transport spokesperson Unathi Binqose said the department would no longer be providing transport to learners as this school “was a school of their choice”.

He said there is another high school closer to where the affected learners’ live. But parents say they have tried to explain that there is violence at that school and they fear for their children’s safety.

TOPICS:  Education Transport

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