A Forest Village mother said she had no choice but to send her Grade 1 pupil to East London after weeks of being taught under a tree. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)
A Forest Village mother said she had no choice but to send her Grade 1 pupil to East London after weeks of being taught under a tree. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Cape mom ships off her Grade 1 daughter to EC after weeks of schooling under trees

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Apr 7, 2021

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After weeks of seeing her first-time school-goer study under a tree, a Forest Village mother said she had no choice but to ship her Grade 1 daughter off to East London to get access to quality education.

“I could not continue to send her to that place and watch her with plenty of other children her age being taught by volunteer teachers under trees, it was just not fair.”

Victoria Xulu said she is one of a few parents who had to send off their children to live with relatives in another province because schools in the area she lived in could not accommodate her child.

Xulu and her daughter moved from Gugulethu to Forest Village in July 2020. She said she applied at nearby schools but her child’s application was rejected.

Together with other parents and the rest of the community, they were calling for a new school in the area to accommodate more children. The illegal school was named Empumelelweni Primary and High School.

About 2 500 people have moved from various areas in the Cape to Forest Village last year alone.

However, as time went by talks with the Western Cape Education came to a deadlock. Instead, the children were left to learn under trees being taught by volunteer teachers.

“I could see that this wasn’t going to get us anywhere and I had to do the ultimate sacrifice which was to send my little one away. She is happier now that she is at a proper school and I can only rely on video call chats with her now.

“This has robbed me of a chance to make memories with my child, especially seeing that it’s her first year at school but I had no choice,” she said.

According to the Western Cape Education Department, the MEC was being strong-armed into building a new school in Forest Village.

WCED spokesperson Kerry Mauchline said: “The WCED had originally offered at the end of last year various alternatives for placement – both primary and high school. Every offer has been denied, or would only be accepted if we employed their ’existing teachers’ and created a ’new school’ on the premises of another. We cannot simply appoint teachers or create new schools in such a manner.”

Meanwhile, the national Department of Basic Education (DBE) has remained silent on the issue as more than 400 children continue to learn under trees. This means that they have no curriculum guidelines to help these volunteer teachers.

DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said: “The WCED is continuing with efforts to resolve the impasse. The WCED has a plan which it will announce soon. The DBE continues to monitor the developments in this regard.”

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