Left: Pupils of the Re-E-Lewele School and their parents marching on Monday.
Parents, members of the School Governing Body and pupils from the Re-E-Lwele Primary School and former Aalwyn School decided to take drastic steps on Monday by removing their children from classes, locking teachers outside and threatening to keep Re-E-Lwele school closed until the Department of Education addresses their needs.
Clifford Lindemann, a concerned resident from Broederstroom said approximately sixty children have not been able to go to school since 18 February when the bus service provided by the Department of Education was stopped.
The owner of the bus that transports the children from their homes on the Hartbeeshoek road apparently said that he had not been paid by the department and could not continue.
The children that use the bus service used to attend the Aalwyn School but this school was closed at the end of last year and were they enrolled at Re-E-Lwele. The Department apparently promised transport for the children but when confronted about payment to the owner, just pulled up their shoulders and said the parents should seek other means.
Other problems raised and which have not been attended to is the lack of water at the school.
“The school has not had running water this year, because the electrical cables were stolen. Water is being tanked in from the Madibeng Municipality,” Clifford said.
The children that Kormorant spoke to all said they missed attending school and hoped that things would be sorted out soon so that they could return. The children have missed out on a lot of work and have not written the tests they should have.
“We like going to school and we want to be there,” Neo Tshupo (12) said. She is one of the children who used to walk two hours to get to Aalwyn School and now stays at home.
Neo, who is in grade 7 said she does some cleaning at home and also goes through her text books while she is waiting for things to return to normal.
“I cannot afford to pay taxi fees to get my child to and from school. It works out to approximately R250 a month,” one of the mothers said.
The school chairperson Julia Tshupo said they were planning to keep the teachers locked out and the children away from classes until their pleas are heard.
“Some children stay close to school and can attend classes, others can’t. It’s not fair,” she said.
Kormorant contacted the Department of Education for their comments and a very reliable source working closely with the school and their related issues, but who was not allowed to be quoted, said the school was one of the few in the area that offered free transport for the children. Budgets have been cut to the bone and the Department apparently does not have any funds available to keep the bus on the road.
“Parents should not just sit back with their arms folded and wait for the Department to act. Many of the parents are employed and have the means to pay for transport.
“They prefer to put the load on the Department’s shoulders and to let their children stay away from school. What would you do in such a situation? Wouldn’t you make a plan to get your child to and from school?” he said.
A mother of three who heard of the children’s dilemma said they also stayed in a rural area where there is no bus service available.
“We pay R25 per child per day to get our children to and from school. Many others use public transport such as taxi’s. I believe it’s the parent’s responsibility. It would be wonderful if the Department could supply busses for all children free of charge,” she said.
The bus saga continues.