From the chaos of Khutsong to the tranquility of Taung, matrics get down to work
After an initially hostile reception from some teachers and officials at Vuselela Further Education and Training in Taung, pupils from schools in Khutsong seem to have settled in at their temporary learning centre.
The relocation of grade 12 pupils from three secondary schools in Khutsong to Taung on Monday was an attempt to address the education crisis in the troubled township.
Learning in the area was brought to a standstill because of riots and protests against the incorporation of Khutsong into North West.
More than 430 matriculants from Khutsong were moved to Taung to help them prepare for exams.
When Sowetan visited Vuselela last week, pupils and the team of 20 subject advisors said they were positive about the catch-up programme.
Most pupils said they were happy and did not regret coming to Taung.
"It's better here because learning is not interrupted. I feel ready for the exams. I feel great," said Nomsa Thwala, 17.
Rachael Montsho said the extra lessons, which included evening and Saturday classes, would help her improve her chances of passing.
"All I want is to pass my matric exams and I am confident that I will do so," she said.
Thabo Nxumalo said he was going to do his best to concentrate on the lessons during the last two months before the exams.
"We know the risks we took in coming here, but we also have to think about our futures.
"We are concerned about the reports of intimidation at home, but we came anyway," said Nxumalo.
Shadrack Mvula, acting chief director in the southern district's regional education department, said they were satisfied pupils were settling in.
Mvula is also responsible for the recovery plan in the region.
He could not give the exact cost of the relocation to Taung, but said "it was part of the R70million budget for the provincial recovery plan".
Mvula said because of the short time before exams, they had to move fast to appoint 20 subject advisors "to allow the pupils to immediately start preparing for exams.
"We need five more subject advisors. We have also appointed two acting principals.
"We will also apply for permission to use this facility as an exam centre," he said.
He added they were not worried about intimidation.
"Police are providing security for all of us," said Mvula.
He said of the 572 matriculants in Khutsong, 436 were at the Taung camp.
"We plan to throw a massive party to welcome the pupils to the Taung camp," said Mvula.
"Their parents will also be invited to the party."
He said: "This will be an opportunity for them to come to see where their kids are staying and studying."
The acting principal of the Taung camp, Makuru Geneke, said his team of subject advisors included experienced examiners, monitors and markers who were encouraged by the commitment of the pupils.
"We are confident the catch-up programme is going to bear fruit," said Geneke.
"The pupils made the decision that they wanted to study and their commitment satisfies us. We will do our best to assist them."
Geneke said doctors in the area were on stand-by to offer medical and psychological assistance to the pupils who might be affected by reports of intimidation at home and at the camp.
Vuselela campus manager, Steve Ntwe, said all arrangements had now been finalised.
"Both management and local students have accepted the Khutsong pupils," said Ntwe.
"Local pupils are also ready to help the Khutsong pupils catch up."
He said the Khutsong group was accommodated at the institution's hostel.
"Vuselela FET has boarding facilities enough to accommodate all the pupils on campus."