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School catch up begins after forced absenteeism – over 70% in one day – during Western Cape taxi strike

School catch up begins after forced absenteeism – over 70% in one day – during Western Cape taxi strike
Commuters at Borcherds Quarry, Nyanga in Cape Town during the taxi strike on 3 August 2023. On Tuesday, 8 August, the peak of the strike, 852,259 learners (71%) were absent from school. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

The Western Cape Education Department has called on parents to ensure their children go back to school after the taxi strike, which on one day saw 71% of learners miss classes.

Western Cape Education MEC David Maynier has said the province cannot afford to “lose one more day of teaching and learning at our schools” after the taxi strike in the province.

On Monday, Maynier told Daily Maverick that teachers would evaluate the impact the taxi strike had on their classes, which would inform catch-up plans.

“The department will provide the support needed to do so,” the MEC said. 

Last week, learners, including matric pupils, were forced to go home after being chased from a taxi rank by people who threw stones at commuters hoping to catch public transport to work and school.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Taxi strike impact — Matric learners threatened at rank, almost half a million blocked from Western Cape schools

There are a recorded 1.2 million learners at schools across the Western Cape. Over the course of the week of the taxi strike, hundreds of thousands could not make it to school.

On Friday, 4 August, the second day of the taxi strike, 287,420 learners (24%) were absent from school. On Tuesday, 8 August, the peak of the strike, 852,259 learners (71%) were absent from school. On Friday, 11 August, the first day after the strike ended, 739,569 learners (61%) were absent from school.

education taxi strike

Maynier told Daily Maverick: “Our metro education districts were most affected. On Tuesday, for example, all of the metro districts had attendance rates of between 10% and 20%.”

The taxi strike started on Thursday, 3 August and was called off on the evening of Thursday, 10 August.

Matric preliminary exams

Matric pupils have been preparing for their preliminary exams, which take place in September. 

Ndinani Sambokwe (18) from Mbekweni, a suburb in Paarl, said the strike “made it harder to prepare adequately for exams”. Sambokwe uses a taxi to get to school and because of the strike, missed a whole week of learning.

Sambokwe, who attends Noorder Paarl High School, suggested the preliminary exams could be pushed back to allow for learners who were affected by the strike.

He said his school had been offering extra classes for every subject after school.  

Read more in Daily Maverick: Western Cape Taxi Strike

Noluthando Tinny Mbuthuma, a Grade 12 teacher at Ilingelethu Secondary  School in Malmesbury, said: “This has caused so much panic, that learners were not even able to attend classes and study.”

The school was providing catch-up lessons.

“We already started with intervention classes,” Mbuthuma said. 

Maynier told Daily Maverick that while this has been a challenging time, parents needed to get their children back to school.

“We simply cannot afford to lose one more day of teaching and learning at our schools in the Western Cape,” he said. DM


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