WATCH | Bicycles give pupils new spin on way to school
Bongani Mandonsela times his breathing with his footfalls on a dusty path that leads away from his home in Ingula‚ in the rolling hills of southern KwaZulu-Natal.
On his way to school‚ in the darkness‚ he knows he has to walk an hour along paths etched into the veld before he arrives at his classroom.
"I can't tell you how far it is. It feels like miles. I know it takes me more than an hour‚" he said.
"In winter I leave home when it is dark and I come home when it is dark‚" the 17-year-old scholar said.
Madonsela is one of thousands of children in the rural reaches of the province who face an arduous journey to school everyday.
"I am having a class at 7am so it means I must leave my house at 4.30am to be there on time. Sometimes I have a class late in the afternoon and then I only get home very late‚" he added.
Madonsela‚ who has aspirations of being a teacher‚ was on Tuesday given a bicycle and a helmet as part of an Eskom outreach programme.
The power utility‚ investing in the community which flanks their Ingula Pump Storage Scheme‚ has donated 975 bicycles to pupils in the district who walk long distances to school.
Eskom acting CEO Abram Masango said that the parastatal had embarked on a number of community investment projects‚ over and above the donated bicycles.
"We are supplying electricity to this place and we recently built the Ingula Pump Storage project. Since we started investing in this community we have spent close to R100-million‚" he said.
"These bicycles is a project among many. We hope that this will aid learners who have to travel great distances to attend school‚" Masango added.
"We have donated bicycles before‚ and this 975 today brings our number to well over 1‚000 at a cost of R3-million. We are proud to be a part of this community."
Basic Education head of department Dr Vusimuzi Nzama said that bicycles would equip learners in covering vast distances in time to get to their lessons.
"This is will be a great benefit to learners because they have been struggling to get to classes on time in the morning and likewise to return to their homes in the evening without transport‚" he said.
"We want them to them to be a part of all the benefits that the school has to offer and these bicycles will help them to do so.
"In an area where these is no scholar transport‚ we are happy that they will be able to attend all of the classes available to them instead of rushing to catch public transport or walking extensive distances‚" Nzama added.