How safe are your kids using public transport?
Every parent wants to provide the best for their children, to give them opportunities that they never had when they were growing up. This is the case for Yolisa Klaas, mother to Lihlonele (11) who attends school in Mtsotso, near Mdantsane.
However, the pursuit of ‘better’ often comes with anxiety for children and parents who live far from their desired schools. More so at a time when children and women seem to be hunted.
Most children commute using the train, which can expose them to many strangers that can take advantage of them. The train has also proven to be an unreliable mode of transport.
Klaas’ daughter wakes up at 5am to get ready for school. She leaves their Unit P home at 6am to get to a school far from home. She used to take the train to school, but that mode was plagued by constant mechanical problems that would make her late for school.
Klaas now has a contract with a private car that fetches her from home and drops her off in the afternoons. She notes that the train ticket was far cheaper, but this mode is safer. On one occasion the train stalled midway to school in Mount Ruth, and she was petrified that her child was by herself in the middle of nowhere.
“I registered my child in a school far from home because I want a better education and more opportunities for her. I have seen how local schools treat children, leaving them to wonder around the school premises when they should be inside the classroom,” she said.
She argues that there is no use saving money at the expense of your child’s education and safety. However, the distance her daughter used to travel in a train, exposed her to a plethora of dangerous scenarios.
Different schools around East London have systems in place for young children who commute for kilometres to attend school every day, in search of better education standards. East London Primary and High School pupils are amongst some of the learners who travel to school by train from Mdantsane.
“Pupils are dropped off by their parents but most pupils travel by taxi and train.
We have had incidents where pupils were left unattended because their transport did not arrive. In those instances, parents are called or the pupils are dropped off at the Duncan Village police station,” said Ben Chetty, East London High School principal.
The school has three security guards who ensure that pupils are looked after should their transport not arrive on time after school. The guards leave the school premises at 4pm.
The school also allows late comers to enter the school premises but the pupils are only allowed to enter into their classrooms at the beginning of the next period so as to avoid class disruptions.
Crewe Primary principal, Peter Beeby, said they are responsible for the children during set school hours which is from 7.15am until 2pm, with exceptions made when there are extra-murals. However, Beeby adds that the school has had to ensure that someone guards the children until 6PM, for their safety.
“We try and take only learners with homes within the school area. Unfortunately, the school does not have a school bus so transport is the responsibility of parents. We have a designated waiting area for learners’ transportation, we have had incidents where transport did not arrive on time to fetch a learner and for such incidents, we have an employee who calls the parents,” said Beeby.