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Pupils miss school due to ‘unsafe’ buses

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“The bus does not have a permit to transport pupils, its tyres are smooth, the roof and windows leak whenever it rains"

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PUPILS have not been attending school at Hoërskool Theron in Brits-town for the past four days due to transport issues, after having to previously commute between Vosburg and Britstown on a daily basis in vehicles they described as “chicken cages”.

According to parents, the bus that transports 65 Grade 8 to 12 pupils is unroadworthy and was previously pulled off the road by traffic officials as its hand brake was faulty.

“We are worried about the matric pupils as well as the other grades who are preparing for the June exams,” the parents said.

“The bus does not have a permit to transport pupils, its tyres are smooth, the roof and windows leak whenever it rains.

“All pupils are not going to school in support of the plight of those who have to travel 65 kilometres to and from school every day. The bus often departs at 5.30pm and there is no time for our children to do research because the library is closed by the time they arrive at home. The matrics cannot attend extra afternoon classes for fear of being stranded in Britstown.

“We were pleading for a high school to be constructed in Vosburg so that our children can attend classes nearer to home. “

They added that parents were forced to take cans of diesel whenever the bus got stuck en route to school.

“The hostel at the school burnt down in 2016 and was never rebuilt. As a result, pupils have to travel daily between Vosburg and Britstown to attend school, but we have been struggling ever since with these rundown, broken buses.

“Our children, who are as young as 13, are forced to hike to get to and from school or have to rely on the police to give them a lift. It is not safe and we cannot afford private transport. Most of the guardians are pensioners who are making use of their grants to school their grandchildren.”

They stated that 200 parents travelled to the Department of Education district offices in De Aar, where they are staging a sit-in to demand that a roadworthy bus be provided for their children.

“We cannot understand why the contract with the current service provider was extended when they have done nothing to improve the safety of their vehicles.”

Spokesperson for the MEC for Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said the department was aware of the situation.

“A team from the department will meet with the parents on Thursday (tomorrow). We are engaging the service provider in this regard and call on law enforcement agencies to take the necessary action.”

Van der Merwe assured parents that the necessary steps would be taken to ensure that no pupil’s academic performance would be negatively affected.