“We are appealing to law enforcement agencies to intervene in the situation in Vuwani. Some of us do not support the destruction of schools in our community as it sets us back and the work we’re doing in improving education outcomes in the community.”, says Kgothaso Mokgophi, a peer education and leader of a stationary donation organisation.
According to the 20-year old Mokgophi, the destruction of the 19 schools burnt in the area is a threat to an already bleak future for many youth in the community. The protests in the area are result of ongoing disagreement between the Municipal Demarcation Board and Vuwani residents. Mokgophi goes on to say that while the right to strike is enshrined in our constitution, there are many other ways in which the situation could have been handled without the damage to schools. Mokgophi is a University of Venda student and is one of 5 young change drivers who have founded an organisation called Limpopo Campaign that provides tutoring support in Sekhukhune. “When I am home in Vuwani, I assist different after-school support programmes. The destruction to these schools will be a setback to many of the learners we support”,said Mokgophi. Limpopo was among the worst performing provinces in the 2015 academic calendar year. Many experts believe that the burning down of 19 Vuwani schools will surely add more burden to Limpopo’s already ailing education system.
Young social change driver and Vuwani resident, Thendo Mapume lays the blame for this stalemate on both residents and the Board for not being able to come up with innovative ways to address the volatile situation. “We feel that the elders, politicians, traditional leaders and the Municipal Demarcation Board have failed us, young people. It is time that we, as the youth, take this in our own hands and use any means available to help in this situations such as mobilising for support through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Rudzani Musamabi Mashau is another young community leader who is taking action against the violent protests in Vuwani. He’s been instrumental in arranging a meeting today (at 2pm) with religious and traditional leaders to find quick solutions to support the affected learners. “The main aim with today’s meeting is to find out if they can allow schooling to be conducted their churches, synagogues, Mosques, community halls etc”, says Mashau.
Mokgophi, Mapume and Mashau are part of the ACTIVATE! network. A nationwide network of young change drivers (who call themselves Activators) spread across the country.
President Jacob Zuma said, there is no grievance that can justify the destruction of property, especially schools which are meant to help the next generation of Vuwani to defeat poverty, inequality and unemployment. “Nobody should be allowed to destroy and jeopardise the future of our children and our country.” said President Zuma