South African Children Still Face Lengthy Walks to School.

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South African Children Brave Dangerous 10-Kilometer Walk to School, Facing Risks and Exhaustion.

In the quiet village of Stratford, South Africa, Luyandi Hlali and her friend Mimi Dubazane embark on a daunting 10-kilometer journey to school after completing their morning chores. Their path is fraught with danger, exposing them to potential encounters with thieves and criminals, an even more menacing prospect during the dark winter months. Unfortunately, they represent just a fraction of the 200,000 schoolchildren in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal province who must navigate more than three kilometers on foot daily to reach their classrooms. This struggle resonates among hundreds of thousands of children in remote rural communities, where the challenge of accessing education persists.

Luyandi shares her daily routine, highlighting the sacrifices made to pursue education. Rising at half-past four, she tends to her morning tasks, preparing for the arduous journey that commences around five o’clock. Despite her resilience, arriving at school by seven leaves her fatigued, struggling to concentrate during lessons and occasionally succumbing to fatigue. While government policy mandates transportation for children walking more than three kilometers to school, the harsh realities of poverty, with unemployment exceeding 25 percent, relegate school buses to a low priority.

An anonymous school principal in the region sheds light on the persistent challenges, describing a harrowing incident where some female students were assaulted by local criminals. Despite having two buses capable of carrying 65 children each, the principal’s school accommodates over 400 students, leaving many to face an exhausting 20-kilometer trek to school. The glaring inequality exacerbates their struggles, with psychologist Melinda du Toit emphasizing the cognitive impact of early starts on tired minds.

The end of the school day brings varied experiences for students. Those fortunate enough to live nearby enjoy a taxi ride home, while others, like Luyandi and Mimi, endure a fatiguing journey on foot, balancing chores and homework. The pervasive challenge of accessing education for South Africa’s rural children underscores the urgent need for comprehensive solutions to address transportation gaps and promote equal opportunities for learning.”

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