Today, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi MP, and DA Leader in the Free State Provincial Legislature, Roy Jankielsohn MPL, walked with learners from Bohlokong Township in Bethlehem to Arran Primary School to raise awareness about the lack of scholar transport in the area.
Despite repeated appeals, the principal of Arran Primary school was told by the Free State provincial government that it cannot provide transport for learners who live in townships and attend farm schools. In the last three financial years, 823 schools have been closed in the province which means that many children now have to travel further to get to school, yet no provision has been made for transport for these learners.
This refusal by the ANC government to provide transport for learners has a devastating effect not only on the education of our children but also on their safety. After walking to school with some of these learners today, it is clear that this must change.
Recently, a learner was raped on her way to school. This could have been avoided had there been transport to get her safely to school.
Learners as young as six also have to cross the busy Reitz road and walk along the provincial R26 road daily, facing oncoming traffic. It is unacceptable that they have to risk their lives just to get an education.
Learners are also unable to concentrate in class as a result of the long walk to school, which is more than 6 kilometres for some. Added to this, some learners only receive one meal per day and we visited two this morning who had not had breakfast before leaving for school.
The lack of scholar transport has lasting effects on the future of our learners. The DA will continue to fight this battle until the burden of travelling long distances to school is lifted off our children’s shoulders.