Floods drown many childrens’ education hopes

Scores of pupils who were victims of the floods that engulfed KwaZulu-Natal a month ago, leaving a trail of death and destruction, are likely to fall between the cracks for the 2022 school term.

This is according to community activists who spoke to the  Sunday World, who said they had been visiting pupils housed in various shelters in the province documenting displaced pupils who needed assistance with uniforms and other basic necessities, such as sanitary towels.

About 1 000 pupils were displaced during the deadly floods with a number of pupils losing breadwinners and parents.

“The problem we identified during our visits is that many learners in the shelters have not gone back to school since the floods. Most of them are without uniforms, they lost everything during the floods. Some lost their parents and are without hope.

“The main concern is that unlike those who are in lower grades, matric learners will be severely affected,” said  activist Khayelihle Mhlanga.

Pupils who continue to carry the brunt of the floods are those living in the informal settlements around Durban where more than 4 000 shacks were washed away.

Other townships such as Ntuzuma, Inanda, KwaMashu and uMlazi, were also not spared. Close to 50 people were killed  in mudslides and when houses collapsed on them.

Some homes lost all family members while children as young as two were left orphaned.

Xolile Nxumalo of the Abahlali BaseMjondolo Shack Dwellers Movement said there were a number of matric pupils who have dropped out because of the plight they find themselves in.

“Some of them had to quit school to look after their young siblings because they lost their parents. You will be aware that June exams started already and the shelters they are housed in are also not conducive to study uninterruptedly.

“It’s difficult to give the exact number of matriculants who are impacted.”

Some communities have banded together using makeshift wooden bridges for several schools that remain inaccessible after the deadly floods.

KwaZulu-Natal provincial education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said the department was doing all it can to |assist distressed pupils, but insisted that the department cannot cope alone.

“We have put in several mechanisms to assist affected learners and track those who are displaced. But the department cannot do this alone. It is a societal responsibility.”

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