Jubilant Kuyga pupils returned home from school yesterday, thrilled at having been given the opportunity to go back to their classrooms for the first time since the Easter weekend.
Hundreds of pupils from the Kuyga community in Port Elizabeth had been left stranded for weeks after the provincial departments of education and transport had collectively scrapped a free transport service to farm schools outside the Kuyga area earlier this year.
Following violent protests in Kuyga last week, the departments reinstated the service yesterday to the excitement of the affected pupils, many of whom were heard cheering when they disembarked from the buses and taxis upon their return from school yesterday.
Some of the children were so excited that they did not want schools to close for the June holiday.
Ayabulela Talata, 12, who is in Grade 5 at Yellowwoods Farm School, said: “We have spent so much time at home idling. I do not mind if the school does not break for the June holidays. I want to catch up with the time we lost.”
Another Grade 5 pupil from the same school, Sinovuyo Mfundisi, 12, said she was excited to meet up with her friends, whom she had not seen for weeks.
“Today, we did a lot of learning, including subjects such as English, IsiXhosa and social science. I was very happy to catch up with my friends. It was very nice to be with them again,” she said.
The Department of Transport has concluded an agreement with service providers to transport pupils to farm schools, with the contracts starting yesterday and expiring in December 2019.
Transport MEC Weziwe Tikana said provision had been made for the transportation of 290 pupils enrolled at Colleen Glen Primary School, 98 at St Albans Primary, 63 at Van Stadens Primary and 105 at Yellowwoods.
“We wish to reiterate our commitment to the government’s priority of providing quality education for all.”
Provincial education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said his department had arranged a programme to assist with catching up lessons pupils had missed, and this programme would start as soon as possible.