Durban - The KZN Department of Education will “break new ground” when they provide 975 learners from 14 local schools in the Uthukela District of KZN with bicycles on Tuesday.
Helmets, pumps and locks will all be a part of the mix when the MEC for education, Mthandeni Dlungwana, does the handover to the children who walk as far as 10 kilometres for their daily education.
The handover is scheduled for 9am at the Ingula High School in Ladysmith.
Children who had the longest walk to school was what the department considered when deciding bicycle recipients.
“We are breaking new ground in our quest to give children access to education,” said Kwazi Mthethwa, spokesperson for MEC Dlungwana.
He said apart from walks being time consuming and energy sapping, the hazard of walking through hilly terrain where wild animals lurked, was life threatening for pupils from the this district.
Given the array of challenges pupils are likely to face on any given day it was not uncommon for some for pupils to choose the comfort and safety of home over an adventurous trek to school, which could span as far as 10 kilometres for some children.
As a result pupils have become disillusioned because of the challenges and dropped out of school, therefore, the department felt compelled to act, Mthethwa explained.
He said: “We’ve had complaints about the high levels of dropouts and absconding from school because pupils had to walk long distances.
“So we decided to act.
“We know the long walks usually left children feeling drained out and couldn’t concentrate. Providing them with bicycles was the best option.
“We’re changing lives with the handover. We don’t see the pupils as children but future learners.
"We will deliver the bicycles in a bid to help vulnerable pupils in rural areas who are travelling long distances to school but do not qualify for scholar transport in terms of the minimum required kilometres.,” Mthethwa said.