Pupils and parents in protest action

Pupils protest along Old Cape Road

Lack of scholar transport again angers Kuyga residents

Pupils from four Port Elizabeth primary schools missed the first day of the second term yesterday when they brought traffic to a standstill along Old Cape Road. The pupils were flanked by their parents, who were demanding scholar transport for their children.

The group of about 100 Kuyga residents blocked Old Cape Road for some two hours as they burnt branches and sang struggle songs, calling for Department of Education officials to address them.

The parents claimed they had been forced to send their children to farm schools outside Port Elizabeth as the nearest school, Kuyga Primary, was full.

Kuyga resident Tshepo Jikazana, the father of a Grade 1 pupil, said: “It’s a problem that is not going to go away unless an entirely new school is built. Kuyga might have space now but it will be full soon and then we will be in the same situation.”

Less than a hour into their protest the Department of Education circuit managers for the four protesting schools – Colleen Glen Primary, Van Stadens Primary, St Albans Primary and Yellowwood Primary – arrived to address the protesters.

The parents and pupils, all Kuyga residents, faced a similar situation at the beginning of the first term.

This was resolved in January after scholar transport was provided.

But Pamela Mbusi, the circuit manager for Kuyga, St Albans and Van Stadens primary schools, said that following the first term’s incident, the department had informed the relevant school governing bodies (SGBs) that scholar transport would no longer be provided.

“From January to March, we told SGBs to tell parents scholar transport would not be provided as of April,” Mbusi said.

“There are policies in place. Only once Kuyga is full can the issue of transport be addressed. Kuyga is their closest school and it needs to be filled to capacity.”

However, unhappy residents were not satisfied with Mbusi’s response.

They eventually urged circuit managers Mbusi, Walter Ah Shene and Ntombi Nama to accompany them to Kuyga Primary.

Upon arrival, SGB members from the four schools were taken to seven vacant classrooms, which principal Wandile Dala said would accommodate some of the 500 affected pupils.

The SGB members raised concerns about additional teachers and the state of the roofless classrooms.

Mbusi responded: “We are both to blame for being where we are.

“Had you [parents] registered your children at Kuyga like we’ve asked for the past three months, these classrooms would have been fixed and teachers provided.

“The only way forward remains for you to register your children so that we have documented proof that Kuyga is full and a plan can be made for scholar transport for the remaining children.”

Colleen Glen SGB chairman Maboy Futa said: “At this point, we have no other choice but to register our children.

“But we know this is going to be a lengthy process and, in between all this, our children are missing vital school days.

“But once this registration is done, if scholar transport is not provided thereafter we will be back. We will see if the promises made here today will be kept.”

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