Across the Cape to learn
Siyabulela Khele is one of thousands of children who trade Eastern Cape for Western Cape to get a better education
He left his mother in the Eastern Cape town of Matatiele and moved to live with his uncle in Cape Town – all for a better education.
Eight-year-old Siyabulela Khele travelled 1 300km, leaving behind his old school of prefabricated buildings with few textbooks, no computers and no after-school sport.
Although his uncle, Moeketsi Mosala (38), doesn’t have a permanent job, the Grade 4 pupil is staying with him in the Philippi RDP house he shares with his girlfriend and four-year-old son.
Khele lives a few hundred metres from his new school, which has a computer laboratory and a library, and offers a variety of sports after school. His family hopes he will benefit from the Western Cape’s 82.8% matric pass rate – significantly higher than the Eastern Cape’s 61.6%, the lowest in the nation in last year’s results.
Khele is one of thousands of pupils who leave the Eastern Cape each year to enrol in schools in the Western Cape. All four of his siblings made the move before him.
His 11-year-old brother, Simthandile, goes to a school in Khayelitsha, where he lives with another relative, while his sister, Athenkosi (15), lives with a family member in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein, where she goes to school.
His 22-year-old brother, Bahle, quit school after finishing Grade 11 and remains in Khayelitsha doing odd jobs while his eldest brother, Nkosiyabo (26), returned to work in the Eastern Cape after he matriculated at a Cape Town school.
Getting Khele registered in Grade 4 at Mzamomhle Primary School was not easy, said Mosala, who was turned away from three other schools. But the effort would be worth it if Khele was to have any future. Many others from Matatiele now live in Philippi and the surrounding townships.
Mosala said: “It is a known fact that this province (Western Cape) produces the best results at the end of the year, thus the family thought it best to send him here.”
Back in the Eastern Cape, Khele lived with his unemployed mother. They survived on child support grants. “Aged eight, he has experienced the suffering his family has to go through and, for that reason, his mother decided to give him a decent education,” said Mosala.
Khele says he wants to pass with flying colours and dreams of becoming a teacher one day. Sitting on the school steps in a borrowed uniform waiting to hear if he would be enrolled, he said he would probably miss his mother in the months to come but was “happy” staying with his uncle.
Western Cape education department spokesperson Paddy Attwell said he did not yet have this year’s final enrolment figures.
Last year the department had 23 564 children from other provinces and 16 792 of them were from the Eastern Cape.
Philippi East Primary School principal Ncumisa Sophangisa said they had a number of pupils registering this year who had moved to Cape Town from various parts of the Eastern Cape.
Pupils arriving from the Eastern Cape were predominantly registering for Grades R to Grade 4.
Judging from last year’s experience with pupils from the Eastern Cape, Sophangisa said their literacy and numeracy levels were low.
Despite this, she said she welcomed the Eastern Cape children and encouraged them to study hard.
- Sandiso Phaliso, West Cape News