The refugees on Greenmarket Square say their children won’t be attending any schools due to inadequate ablution facilities, lack of funds and no proper housing. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - While most parents will today accompany their children on their first day at school, it won’t be the case for the refugee children camped on Greenmarket Square since October.

The refugees say their children won’t be attending any schools due to inadequate ablution facilities, lack of funds and no proper housing.

David Kabeya, 18, who attended Masibambane Secondary School in Wallacedene last year, said finding a place to stay had taken priority. “I wish to go back to school. The problem is that our parents are looking for the government to provide a space. That’s what they’re more focused on. I can still go back to school but it is hard, because we are living outside,” he said.

“How should I send my children to school? I want to send them but we don’t even have a place to bathe. We don’t have water. We don’t have a toilet,” said a refugee mother of two.

Another refugee parent, who said she has been in the country for 20 years, said there was a problem with providing the correct documentation to refugees and their children, with some born in South Africa.

“It’s so difficult when it comes to papers. My first born, who is 5 years old now, I spent almost four years getting his birth certificate while he was born here. There are kids here who are 12 who have no papers. How can a child who has no papers, who was born here, go to school? There’s a certain time when you need the actual identification of a child.”

The Western Cape Education Department said it was aware of the situation and the onus was on every parent, whether refugee or a citizen, to enrol their child at a school.

“They need to sign the documents personally. They need to ensure they take responsibility for their placement,” said spokesperson Bronagh Hammond.

Esther Andeka, 19, completed her schooling last year and said she intended to study civil engineering but not in South Africa. “Here, you study and get diplomas and then you don’t get a job because you are a foreigner or refugee,” she said.

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