N.Cape schools reopen after violence

Around 16,000 children are due to return to school in the Northern Cape on Wednesday.

A file picture of pupils in class. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Around 16,000 children are due to return to school in the Northern Cape on Wednesday, but questions have been raised about how community members were able to keep the institutions closed for so long.

Schools were closed around the Kuruman area in June, after intimidation by residents demanding a tarred road be built to the area.

Community members burnt down three schools in the area and refused to allow learners to be taught.

A task team headed by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa was on Tuesday able to convince communities to reopen the institutions.

Non-governmental organisation Equal Education wants to know what happened within the ranks of Government that allowed the situation to explode so quickly.

Equal Education spokesperson Kathryn Schneider said: "We have to ask, if things are only being resolved now, was this situation communicated to other departments?"

But she said the matter also leads to a bigger problem.

"We also need to ask, at what point did the communication between government and the community breakdown which made the situation escalate so quickly and get out of control."

Schneider is worried communities could start holding schools to ransom.

"We really need to look at how we can get parents and communities to start viewing schools as places that need to be protected and insulated from political turbulence, rather than being used as bargaining chips in service delivery issues."

Meanwhile, the Department of Basic Education hopes the vast majority of school children in the area attend classes today.