As South Africa is commemorating Human Rights Day on Monday, parents of learners who travel from Bodutlolo village to Matsemela secondary school at Ga-Mathabatha, outside Polokwane, are accusing the government of trampling on the rights of their children.
Bodutlolo does not have a high school. Parents are demanding the provision of safe and reliable scholar transport for learners to travel to Matsemela secondary.
The pupils have had to walk nearly 10 kilometres to get to school since the beginning of the school year.
The parents also marched for nearly 10 kilometres to demonstrate and protest against the distance the learners have to walk daily.
This year’s commemoration of Human Rights Day takes place under the theme, The Year of National Unity and Renewal: “Promoting and Protecting our Human Rights Gains.”
Learners and parents from Bodutlolo who walk to Matsemela high school in Ga-Mathabatha, say they are yet to see the gains from the right to education.
Their village doesn’t have a secondary school and they walk nearly ten kilometres to the neighbouring village to attend school.
Parents say the bus which was previously provided by the provincial Education Department was not safe and it broke down at the beginning of the year. They have also submitted a memorandum to the Education Department, demanding transport for over 120 learners.
“Our big concern is the scholar transport because our children are struggling. It’s worse when it’s raining. It’s not safe for them to walk for this distance because they could be victims of crime since they also walk through the bush,” one parent laments.
Another parent says, “This distance is not safe for our children and it’s very far from our area. We wish that the government should build the school for us in our area because it’s been a long time. Now we request for at least two buses because those learners are too many.”
The Education Department has promised to resolve their demands. District Manager for school transport Cairo Moima confirms they have received the memorandum.
“We want to confirm that indeed we have received your memorandum. And from here we will sit down and process the memorandum. but what I must indicate is that as a department, we take this matter very seriously and we will ensure that by the time schools reopen, we’ve actually complied with what you have requested. In fact, there are processes that are at an advanced stage to ensure that we regularise issues of school or transport of Matsimela.”
Meanwhile, the SGB Council of South Africa says it is concerned about corruption allegations relating to tenders for scholar transport. It says the Education Department must appoint credible service providers.
The Learners’ Representative Council President says the lack of transport affects their learning.
“We call upon the department of education to bring a suitable transport for the learners of Shushumela so that they can arrive at school on time and safely.”
Parents here have given the Education Department an ultimatum, to ensure that learners receive safe and reliable scholar transport when schools reopen for the second term. They say they will stage a sit-in at this school if their demands are not met.