Absenteeism continues in schools in Khayelitsha because of the climate of fear and uncertainty caused by the taxi associations, says the Western Cape education department.
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) says that while learner transport scheme buses were able to operate in Khayelitsha and Mfuleni on Tuesday, nearly 1,000 learners did not attend school as parents were still fearful and kept their children at home. Last week, taxi associations blocked and threatened learner transport operators from ferrying learners to schools in Khayelitsha and neighbouring areas. Elitsha reported that the taxi associations are angered by the Western Cape education department’s failure to meet them to discuss a scholar transport partnership.
The blockade led to thousands of learners missing school but with an increased police presence along the affected routes, the learner transport scheme buses were able to operate according to the department. “Unfortunately, the climate of fear and uncertainty created by the minibus taxi associations has led some parents to keep their children home from school, understandably fearful of the threats made over the past two weeks,” said Western Cape Education MEC, David Maynier.
On Thursday last week, the chairperson of the task team on transport under the Khayelitsha Development Forum, Monde Nqulwana said that they had made a breakthrough after lengthy negotiations with a taxi association. Nqulwana said that the taxi association had agreed to allow private learner transport to operate – but not the buses contracted by WCED. According to the agreement, the taxi association will until the 22nd of February transport the learners to schools themselves.
Injongo Primary School is one of the schools in Khayelitsha that was disrupted by the blockade. School governing body member, Philiswa Marman said that the blockade has affected learners and teachers alike and that as many as 400 learners had missed school in just a week. “Children have to walk from Nkanini, Endlovini, to Village 1 where the school is located. This results in learners attending classes exhausted because of the long route they took to school, and leaves parents worrying about the safety of their children,” she said.
The WCED has through the courts, interdicted Codeta from preventing the transportation of learners to school. “At the moment the department of education has an interdict against Codeta and therefore they cannot act or do anything at the moment till they appear in court this coming Friday, the 25th, “ said Nqulwana.