Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has appealed to the communities of Vuwani and the surrounding villages to refrain from using the municipal demarcation issue to disrupt learning activities in the area.
"As government our message is clear: don't use the municipal demarcation issue to disrupt learning and teaching. Those who are disrupting academic activities at our schools should know that they are infringing the rights of students to learn The burning of schools and blockading of roads denies our young people education," the Minister said on Tuesday.
Minister Muthambi was speaking to SAnews during her Back to School Campaign targeting schools in Malonga, Ha-Davhana, Mabidi, Sundani and Nngwekhulu areas outside Vuwani.
Teaching and learning in the area stopped two weeks ago when violent protests erupted after residents of Vuwani, Tshikonelo, Masia, Vyeboom, Mashau, Tshimbupfe and other surrounding villages lost a court case to have the area not incorporated into the newly proposed municipality.
Although the roads leading to the villages visited by the Minister are not blockaded, there were no learners in all the schools. Only school principals were there. Minister Muthambi was not happy about the situation.
"This area is not up in flames. As government, we are seriously concerned that local residents are not taking their kids to school, even though there is no form of intimidation.
"In this area, roads were never blockaded. Schools were not burned down or damaged. We were expecting teaching and learning to be in full swing. Even in the so-called volatile areas, learning activities have resumed. So we are expecting teachers in all the schools in this area to be back in the classrooms before the end of this week," she said.
Circuit manager of Vhuronga 1, David Mafuna, echoed Minister Muthambi's sentiments: "If today teachers were able to come and meet us at the schools, they should stop claiming that they are unable to go to school because their safety is in danger or the roads are closed. I am expecting to see them at their respective schools as from tomorrow, Wednesday."
Makhado Mayor David Mutavhatsindi said: "We are expecting teachers and learners in all the schools in Vuwani and surrounding areas to go back to school. We are urging residents to stop resorting to violence when they want to air their views. As a democratic government, we strongly believe in resolving challenges through dialogue."
When Minister Muthambi arrived at Matamela Primary School in Davhana village, a truck was delivering school desks. School principal Azwindini Muthambi said: "The arrival of school desks is a clear indication that as government educators, we are ready to justify our salaries by teaching learners. We are appealing to students to return to school tomorrow, Wednesday," she said.
Grade 12 learner at Davhana Secondary School, Zwidofhelangani Madongololo, said: "I am glad that the situation has returned to normal What is painful is that if we fail grade 12.. (our) future is shattered. So as learners we are appealing to those who are striking not to disrupt schooling in the area."
Meanwhile, the Provincial Department of Education also delivered mobile classes to Mashau village where most schools were torched or vandalised.
Source: Government Communication and information System