South Africa: Limpopo Learners Walk Ten Kilometres to Nearest School

Over 100 learners from Ngudza, Limpopo, have been transferred to schools more than ten kilometres from their village. This after the Department of Education closed down Ramugondo Secondary School last week due to dwindling learner numbers.

Most of the learners were given places at two schools in Thohoyandou Village which is several kilometres away by car. But because the department has not yet provided scholar transport, they have to make the journey on foot. This means some learners have to walk for more than 20 kilometres to and from school and have to cross a river without a footbridge.

"We are now going to lose sleep from Monday to Friday as we have to wake up as early as 3am preparing for learners to be at school on time. We also need to accompany them until they cross the river," sayid Dzudzanani Netshitavhadulu, a former member of Ramugondo's school governing body.

She said parents were concerned that the department had closed Ramugondo before making arrangements to get learners to their new schools.

Netshitavhadulu said some learners were asked to attend Muhuyuwathondo Secondary School and others Dengenya Secondary.

In his recent State of the Province Address, Premier Stan Mathabatha said, "To ensure maximum attendance and concentration at school, we will continue to avail scholar transport to all the learners who are residing at least five kilometres away from the nearest school. We are currently transporting over 42,000 learners to and from school every school day through our scholar transport initiative."

Sam Makondo from the Limpopo Department of Education said they had asked parents to make alternative arrangements while the department finalised its plans to get scholar transport. "We are still in the process of arranging the transport," he said.

To which Chief Baldwin Ramugondo told GroundUp that parents had never agreed to arrange their own transport. "Most of the parents depend on social grants. Where would they get the R300 for transport per month?" he asked.

"Learners will be stressed by walking long distances and may not participate fully in class that could result in them failing. I foresee most learners dropping out of school," he said.

The community will meet with representatives from the department on 22 March to discuss how the old school buildings could be used.

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