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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Kuruman Affair – Holding children’s future to ransom



One only has to look at a roadmap of South Africa to see that there are vast open spaces of land where tarred roads are non-existent. The situation has been like this for years, and not only in the scarcely populated rural areas of the country.

I can recall the good ol’ days, roughly between the late 1960’s and early 80’s when we used to travel regularly up north to visit family on two farms bordering the banks of the Mogalakwena River. The one farm Heilbosch near Alldays is where my mother was born, in the year 1935. There were no tarred roads back then, and during a recent visit to the area I realized that, as far as appalling dirt roads go, nothing has really changed much over the years.

Back in those days the majority of school-going kids attended boarding school (like many still do today), and only came home over weekends and school holidays. My mother can still remember the days when she and the other kids travelled the 60km’s on a donkey-cart back and forth to their school in the town of Tolwe – I kid you not!  Today, in our modern times, the farmers in the area obviously drop-off and collect their kids in their own private vehicles. Some farmers, whose kids are not in boarding school, do the trip twice a day on dirt roads that are in such a bad condition that no one will risk travelling the route without a 4x4.

For some farmers, like my cousin for example, who lives on another farm situated about 30km’s from Alldays, the daily transporting of kids is quite a mission: After school the kids depart from the town of Vivo, which is about 40km’s from Alldays, on a very old bus (which often breaks down on the route) and are dropped off at the NG Church in Alldays. By the time they arrive home the kids are usually fast asleep on the backseat – totally exhausted! The 140km cycle repeats itself every day from Monday to Friday, starting at 05:00, with homework to be completed in-between, and with Mr Cane sometimes making a swift and persuasive appearance – (another parental right - the ANC government is apparently intending on making a criminal offence).

Make no mistake, the farmers in the area complain like hell about the condition of the dirt roads that are deteriorating by the day… In fact, they’ve been complaining to the government for more than 50 years! I’ve merely used the Alldays region as an example because I am familiar with the area and some of the people who live and farm there, but I know for a fact that farmers all over the country are experiencing the exact same problems. Nevertheless, come hell or high-water, poverty, famine and disaster, war or peace, THEIR KIDS WILL GO TO SCHOOL!!!!

In stark contrast to these disciplined and orderly folk you will find scattered in various parts of this crazy country, a class of a totally different kind who don’t think the same way as The Boer. A child, in the eyes of this odd and often violent species, is a mere political pawn in their chess game. They played the game triumphantly during the Soweto uprising of June 1976, using kids as pawns, and their strategy (to get what they want, for freeee) hasn’t changed since then.

A total of 16000 pupils have been unable to attend schools in the Northern Cape since June because of violent protests, the Times reported on Monday.

Thousands unable to attend school because of violent protests – The Reason? Because of a lack of tarred roads – believe it or not!

Protests over the lack of tarred roads in the Johan Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality, in which Kuruman is situated, have seen residents forcing teachers to close over 35 schools to pupils from Grade R to Grade 12 since June 6.

The latest reports (here and here) mention a figure of 45 schools closed and three burned down. The reports also quote a spokesperson for the Department of Basic Education, Mr Panyaza Lesufi, as stating: “The high level of intimidation and disruptions make it extremely difficult for the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to visit the area.” - (In reality this useless Minister is sipping cocktails in Mauritius.)

Provincial education spokesman, Sydney Stander, told the newspaper the department was aware of the situation for three months.
“All the issues raised have been non-education issues. The protesters chose schools because they are soft targets, intimidating teachers and pupils.”

Stander said schools in Glenred, Dithakong, Bothithong, Loopeng and Laxey had been closed. He said intervention was difficult because of the high level of intimidation with entrances to villages being blocked.

“The department had managed to relocate all matric learners. For a month now they have been receiving tuition at Deo Gloria in Barkly West.”

He said these pupils were being assisted by, among others, subject teachers and learning area managers.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was involved behind the scenes but had not yet visited the area, spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said. He said Motshekga would visit the area soon – (when she’s done sipping cocktails in Mauritius).

In January, Motshekga singled out John Taolo Gaetsewe as one of the worst performing districts in the Northern Cape.

The district is one of the poorest in the province with more than 180 no-fee schools. – Sapa

What is happening here?

This whole spiteful affair has, of course, nothing to do with education, service delivery protests, or tarred roads at all, although the residents probably have valid reasons for wanting to voice their discontent about that too. Don’t tell me that it’s the parents of these 16000 children who are doing the intimidation! What’s happening here is exactly what happened at the Marikana incident… Ringleaders with a hidden agenda are working behind the scenes and are stirring trouble. Whoever they are, they’ve infected the local community and have cunningly created the impression that it is angry residents who are not allowing schools to open. Ironically, bits of truth have emerged from the National Department of Basic Education (DBE), through their spokesperson, Panyaza Lesufi, who warned that the situation was close to anarchy – (we are hitting a brick wall), and who also said:
“No one should be allowed to hold the children’s future to ransom by using them to advance their own agenda.”

Own agenda? – Seeing that education is such a top priority, are the masterminds behind this sting-operation perhaps somehow involved in the business of road construction and maintenance? Anything is possible in this crazy country!

Incidentally, the Johan Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality is in such a state of chaos (like the numerous others in the country) that it’s even hazardous to visit their website:

Website - Johan Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality

2 comments :

socrates said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

“No one should be allowed to hold the children’s future to ransom by using them to advance their own agenda.”

Back to the future .....

What irony.

whiteson said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Thanks Tia for giving such good story. I agree an d I think those whites in our age group can still remember our hard days of scholing. So much more for our parents. What came of it? SUCCESS! Its beyond any human's thinking what these blavk people want.Every thing is on golden platters available to them, but no nothing seems to give them any satisfaction. It's more like that you pointed out that there's bigger agendas involved. Even if the road is ready tomorrow, there will for sure be some other thing to make them unhappy. I dont feel any thing for the pupils not learning, I think they(pupils) enjoy it more to not attend school than we may think.

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