Thousands of learners left behind by taxi strike

The taxi strike caused the closure of nearly 30, mostly township schools. Photo by Mzi Velapi

The Western Cape education department says that at the height of the strike, 852,259 learners stayed home from school in the province.

Over 456,000 learners could not attend classes during the eight-day taxi strike in the Western Cape, with the Cape Town metro being the most affected. Learners in township schools could not make their usual way to school for fear their vehicle would be attacked. This is not the first disruption to the academic year in the Western Cape, and this time it comes at a crucial time for Grade 12 students who are preparing for trial exams in September.

The taxi strike was called-off yesterday after the taxi council and the City of Cape Town agreed on the issue of taxi impounding.

For those who go to school in Khayelitsha and neighbouring townships, this is the second time this year they have lost out on teaching and learning time due to actions of the taxi associations. In February, taxi associations blocked and threatened learner transport operators from ferrying learners to schools in Khayelitsha and neighbouring areas with thousands learners being affected.

“These flare-ups have serious consequences for learners and school communities in marginalised areas like townships, where it is difficult to change routines and plans to accommodate disruptions of access to school and work,” reads a statement by Equal Education. The setbacks caused by the Covid-19 lockdown mean that this generation cannot afford to lose any more teaching and learning time, says Equal Education.

“This is a significant increase from the 287,000 learners and 9,500 staff members who were absent on Friday and is a devastating loss of teaching and learning time that our children simply cannot afford,” reads the statement by David Maynier, Western Cape minister of education.

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Twenty-seven schools were closed on 7 August, and some allowed learners to leave early due to limited transport and the threat of violence. No schools were burnt, despite rumours circulating.

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