School buses are back after learner picket

Humansdorp learners missed school for two weeks because of lack of transport

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For two weeks about 200 learners have been walking to school in Humansdorp because of a failure of school transport. Some had to walk up to 60 km a day. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani

  • About 200 learners in Humansdorp had not been able to attend school for two weeks because of a lack of transport.
  • They were able to return to class on Thursday after they picketed on Wednesday to complain.
  • Some learners had been walking up to 60km a day to and from school.
  • School governing body chair at Humansdorp Senior Secondary says the transport company had not been paid by the provincial department of transport. But the department denies this.

About 200 Humansdorp learners who have not been able to attend school for two weeks were able to return to class on Thursday when the Eastern Cape Department of Transport finally resolved their school transport problem.

On Wednesday morning the learners, from Humansdorp Senior Secondary School, and their parents picketed at their bus stops in Sea Vista township in St Francis Bay, demanding transport.

Learners from Sea Vista, Oyster Bay and surrounding farms were the most affected. Worried parents had used their last money to pay vehicles for hitchhiked transport to school.

Jaques Alexander, chairperson of the school governing body, said learners had been stranded because the department had not paid the service provider. But Unathi Binqose Eastern Cape Transport spokesperson, denied this.

Alexander said some of the learners were walking 30km to school and another 30km back home. “On our school list we have 244 learners that are currently being transported by the Department. About 200 of them have not been to school for two weeks because their parents cannot afford taxi fare,” he said.

Bulelwa Badi of Sea Vista has two daughters at the school. “Our children study under difficult conditions. Their bus picks them up from 5am. But for two weeks the bus has not picked them up. They stand there on the road and hitchhike. Sometimes they get a lift to school but it’s difficult to get back home.”

“We survive on piecemeal jobs that I do three days a week. Per day I work for R200. Out of that money I give my children taxi fare to go to school.” Badi said the return taxi journey cost R80 per child.

“I want to see my children every day at school because many children who have dropped out of school here become drug addicts and gang members. Our government must fix the scholar transport problem because we want a bright future for our children,” she said.

Grade 8 learner Godwin Davids had not been to school in this second term.

“Our bus is no longer ferrying us. Before we closed the school the bus driver said he will stop ferrying us because government has not paid him. Everyday we wake up and wait for a bus but it does not arrive. Now I rely on getting school work from other learners who are able to go to school,” he said.

Anothando Daniels, a grade 12 learner from Sea Vista, told GroundUp, “Our scholar transport is not reliable. For many years it has been like this. Sometimes the drivers say the bus is faulty and we have to walk all the way home.”

Grade 12 learner Henley Phillips, also from Sea Vista, said: “We have huge dropouts at our school because we walk long distances. To get to the main road it takes me about 5km from home.”

“It’s winter now and we leave our homes while it’s still dark and cold.”

TOPICS:  Education Transport

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