More than 30 pupils from Station Hill who go to Mary Waters High School in Makhanda (Grahamstown) were left stranded by their school transport provider the week schools re-opened this term, after the driver told them he was instructed to leave them behind as they are not on the department’s budget.
Parents were up in arms and woke up early last Wednesday morning to stand with their kids after they were left behind by the school transport on Tuesday. Distressed parents expressed their concerns over this problem that has been going on for quite some time now.
Janine Wagner, a parent and community stakeholder, said they had been having this transport problem since the beginning of the year.
“We have been fighting this for a while now, we even went to the Department of Education in the district office and we were told that our children were not budgeted for. We went to Ndlambe municipality for temporary help then they assisted us with a transport for some time but again today we are back to square one,” Wagner said.
“This morning [July 10] the school transport came and it had about seven pupils [on-board] and it left our children behind. When we asked the driver he said he was doing what he was instructed to do, and we don’t know who instructed him. We don’t know what the problem is, we need a solution to this. We headed towards the end of the year, our kids are going to miss out and what will happen if they fail,” she said.
Another parent, Benedict Danster, who was also angry for his child, said he had missed out on a day’s work to stand with his child since 5am.
“I have missed a day’s work and that means no payment for me. I don’t know what is going to become of our kids because if they drop out they are going to be involved in drugs and other criminal activities. We really need help and if they don’t answer us, then things are going to get ugly, because that is the only way you get attention from government nowadays,” said Danster.
In response to TotT’s queries, education department spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said if there are high schools in the area where the pupils live, then the department suggests that they go to those schools that are near them.
“I believe there are schools around Port Alfred that these kids can go to, even if it’s black schools, because from my understanding they get taught all the other subjects in English anyway, then it changes when it comes to home languages,” Mtima said.
“As the department, we can’t pay when they can go to schools near them.”
BY NTOMBENTSHA MSUTU