LERATO Mabeba, 13, walks 22km to and from school everyday - come rain or shine.

That is a total of 110km every week. Over a month he walks a distance equivalent to that from Johannesburg to Durban.

Lerato's story is that of many school pupils living in rural and semi-urban areas who have to walk for hours to get to school.

The Izitini Zolwazi (Izzi) Trust, last week launched the Bus for Us campaign in response to the large number of school children walking long distances to and from school every day.

Exhaustion from the long walks affects both the pupils' energy and concentration levels in class.

The campaign was launched at the Re-E-Lwele Primary School in Broederstroom, North West, and will raise funds to buy a bus to transport school children in the area.

At least 70 children from outlying areas walk an average of 18km to school every day since their school bus broke down two years ago.

The bus was donated by the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa in 2001. Servicing and maintenance of the bus was the responsibility of the North West education department.

Izzi Trust project manager Felicity Gallagher said the bus was more than 20 years old when it was donated.

"The department paid for maintenance and repairs but after some time the bus was just beyond repair," she said.

The trust will have to raise about R900000 for a good second-hand 65-seater bus.

The department will again be responsible for the insurance, running costs and driver's salary.