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Makgoe wants senior learners to stay in hostels

Staff Reporter

Free State Education MEC Tate Makgoe says learners in Grades 7 and 12 in the province’s rural and farming communities should be accommodated in hostels so they can dedicate more time to their studies without having to travel long distances to school.

Makgoe said the learner transport that ferries some of them to school is not always reliable and this has resulted in some of them missing classes.

“We want to ensure that more and more of our farm learners live in hostels,” Makgoe said during a learner transport roadshow at Kagisho Comprehensive Secondary School in Bloemfontein

The event was organised to discuss learner transport challenges in Motheo and Xhariep districts ahead of next month’s return of more learners to school under the phased reopening plan.

The meeting was attended by district heads, senior officials and school principals.

The weeklong roadshow covered all the five districts in the province.

At least 388 685 learners in the province in Grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11 are expected back in school on July 6.

Grades 7 and 12 returned on June 8.

Schools were forced to close on March 17 as the country prepared to go on lockdown as a measure to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

“Many of the Grade 12 learners have lost so much time because of the lockdown. So, if we can camp them in a hostel, I am sure we will be able to recover,” Makgoe said passionately.

The MEC said he wishes he would not be there when the Grade 12 results are announced because it will be painful for him to see the province dropping from its current number one position.

“You see, in the Free State, we depend entirely on the poor schools for good results,” he said.

“If you go to Gauteng, they have more than 60 percent of the ex-Model C schools. They have been continuing with education.

“But I am the fighting type. We must remain number as the Free State.

“So, we must still do everything possible to fight this battle . . . We must focus on the class of 2020.”

Makgoe said he is aware some parents are reluctant to let their children stay in hostels but it is important for the school heads and teachers to make them understand that it is for the benefit of the learners as they will have more time to focus on their studies.

“We have to go out of our way to convince those parents . . . so they understand that it’s in the interest of their children that they live in the hostels. More farm learners should live in hostels,” he stressed.

Makgoe also expressed concern that some farm schools only had up to Grade 6 classes, resulting some learning dropping out of school after failing to secure a place for Grade 7.

“I think that’s one of the reasons we have a high drop-out rate in our schools,” he lamented.

“Most of these children end up being farm workers because they cannot continue with their education.

“Schools with less than 50 learners should be closed and the learners should be accommodated elsewhere so that they get better education.

“We can’t have one person teaching from Grade R to 6. It doesn’t benefit the learners. It doesn’t work.”

Makgoe said his department is also considering procuring buses so that each of the 78 hostels in the province could have its own bus for the ease of transporting learners.

He said learners cannot miss school or drop out because of transport.

The meeting also discussed the general readiness of schools in the two districts to receive learners in line with COVID-19 regulations.

The MEC urged schools to monitor learner transport, assess the roadworthiness of the vehicles and check if the drivers are following COVID-19 regulations.

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