Children have been raped and assaulted on their long walk to school. Now they are demanding that a pupil transportation policy be implemented, write the KwaZulu-Natal Equalisers
DEAR EDUCATION MEC KWAZI MSHENGU
We are writing this letter because we are concerned about the lack of transport for pupils in KwaZulu-Natal.
It has come to our attention that the policy for the transportation of pupils, which we have been requesting since 2015, after the adoption of the National Scholar Transport Policy, is yet to be finalised and implemented.
We wish to voice our concerns related to the lack of urgency shown by the KwaZulu-Natal education department.
We are experiencing many obstacles on our way to school as a result of pupils lacking access to transport.
Many pupils have been raped and assaulted because they have to walk long distances to school and some have even dropped out because of this issue.
Our journeys include crossing dangerous obstacles, such as dams, rivers and unsafe roads.
Equal Education has been advocating pupil transportation in Nqutu, KwaZulu-Natal, since 2014, when pupils identified the urgent need for transportation in the province.
As a means of addressing this need we had actions outside the department in 2015 to demand the provision of transport for pupils in the province.
Following these demonstrations Equal Education managed to push for and secure the National Scholar Transport Policy which led to three schools receiving buses in Nqutu – the schools are Esikhumbuzweni Secondary School, Nhlalakahle Secondary School and Mangeni High School.
Last year we celebrated another victory when 12 additional schools in the province received buses after four years of advocating transport for pupils.
However, these buses were not enough for all pupils in need of transport, which leads to them often being overcrowded.
It is a fact beyond doubt that overcrowded vehicles are more likely to be involved in accidents.
Another major problem is that disabled pupils cannot access that transport, even though the transport is supposed to cater to all pupils.
We have decided to focus our advocacy on ensuring that all 370 000 pupils in need of transportation in the province be afforded this opportunity, by centring our campaign on securing the provincial policy.
The provincial education department promised to adopt the policy by December 31 last year – 10 months later we are still waiting.
For this reason, Equal Education has decided to take you and the province’s transport department to court.
We want the education department to release the provincial policy on pupil transportation this year.
We also want the policy to show how the department will plan for the future implementation of the policy. We demand sufficient and safe transport, with well-trained drivers.
The policy must also show what alternative types of transport have been considered and should clearly outline the division of roles and responsibilities between the education and transport departments.
As Equalisers we demand that the policy is informed by the number of pupils per school, so that transport can be distributed accordingly to avoid overcrowding.
We demand that the education department ensures that schools in need of transport get access.
The transport department should make providing transport for pupils a priority so that the number of pupils being raped and assaulted will decrease.
We also want the transport being provided to cater for disabled pupils.
It is a huge concern that instead of simply adopting the provincial policy you have instead decided to waste funds on court processes – funds that could have been used to fund the transportation of pupils in the province.
It is not necessary that we go to court.
MEC, 370 000 pupils in the province are depending on you to adopt the transport policy so that their treacherous daily long walk to school can come to an end.
We would appreciate it if our concerns are taken into consideration. We need to end the long walk to school for all pupils.
Yours in concern,
KwaZulu-Natal Equalisers are pupil members of Equal Education
Ntombi Mngomezulu – Grade 11: Ngwane Secondary
Lungelo Khanyile – Grade 11: Nhlalakahle Secondary
Sthembile Ngcobo – Grade 9: Mathukulula Secondary
Sbonelo Moloi – Grade 10: Hlubi Secondary
Thabani Zwane – Grade 11: Nhlalakahle Secondary
Mpilwenhle Masondo – Grade 11: Mathukulula Secondary
Thabisile Sithole – Grade11: Nhlalakahle Secondary
Sifiso Mabaso – Grade 11: Bongumenzi High
Palesa Ndlangamandla – Grade 12: Ndlelanhle Secondary
Nhlakanipho Ngobese – Grade 11: Ngwane Secondary
Luyanda Koina – Grade 11: Ndlelanhle Secondary
Sandile Molefe – Grade 11: Zicole Secondary
Tebogo Tsesane – Equal Education junior organiser