By Mbulelo Sisulu
The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Eastern Cape has learned with great disappointment that more than thirty thousand deserving learners in the Eastern Cape schools may not be transported to and from school in the 2021 academic year.
SACP Provincial Spokesperson Siyabonga Mdodi said they are steadfast that no country has ever been reconstructed and developed through austerity measures during or post-war or devastating and prolonged pandemic of magnitude of the current. It must be recognised that persistence with austerity will hit hard to the families of the working class and lower-middle strata.
“Instruction from the Department of Education that working class children who travel for 10km to school must be removed from the list of pupils to be transported is not only insensitive but reckless as it will lead to massive dropouts. The critical lesson we have all learned from Covid-19 is that the monotonous neo-liberal narrative of reducing state capacity is wholly incapable of providing solutions to societal challenges. Contrary, what is required is to build state capacity and massively invest not reduce the budget on social services,” he said.
He mentioned the fact that if children from the working class and lower middle strata are denied the opportunity of going to school for the fault not of their own such would constitute a betrayal to the commitments this government has made of ensuring universal access to education.
He added it is imperative for this 6th administration to be consistent in its message. Education has been declared a priority and among other things must in practise mean no learner is imposed with conditions like working 20km to and from schools as such can only lead to dropouts. Eastern Cape cannot afford to add to the whooping 139 175 learners which drop out in 2020 alone.
The SACP calls for withdrawal of this insensitive instruction for learners traveling for 10km not to be transported. SACP is further convinced that the government must strengthen its processes and avoid massive leakages and wastage as a result of corruption or programs which do not serve the interest of the majority.
“We are convinced as the SACP that with bona fide engagement by the government and all stakeholders within the education and transport sector can lead to an expeditious and humane lasting solution to this matter. No learner must ever be denied an opportunity to learn because he or she is from a working class family,” he said.