Phindile Chauke
2 minute read
1 Mar 2014
12:01 pm

Eldos kids dip out on school through drug programme

Phindile Chauke

The Eldorado Park anti-drug initiative launched by President Jacob Zuma and Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane last year has hit a snag, resulting in affected children placed in safety homes missing out on school since last week.

Image courtesy Ian L/Freerangestock.com

The children’s parents this week expressed concerns that the children placed in residences outside the township to afford them an opportunity to turn their lives around through education were expected to be writing exams this week.

“We do not know what is going on or what is going to happen to our children,” said one parent, Nadia Hollard.

Another, Christine van der Haar said they were only told the children have not been going to school because their transport and accommodation had not been paid for since the school term began this month.

Dereelen James, the mother who wrote a letter to Zuma pleading for his intervention in Eldorado Park, had to travel to a social development office last Friday to ask for food for the children after they ran out at one of the homes.

James was full of praise for “over-stretched” service providers who have gone the extra mile since the schools reopened.

“We went to see the children Wednesday night and found them still motivated and busy with their books. But they kept asking when they will be going back to school,” she said.

James had exposed her own teenage son, who was a drug addict, to highlight the problem in the area. This prompted Mokonyane, who was appointed by Zuma to manage the anti-drug programme, to pledge to help the boy. However, since his return from rehabilitation, James said drug dealers have been trying to lure him back into drugs.

“He is back at home, but I am unemployed and cannot send him to school to give him a chance in life,” she said.

Mokonyane was not available to comment.

Pastor Eden Constance of the Evangelistic Outreach Ministry echoed James’ concerns and said the programme has only succeeded in having drug users arrested, while drug lords walk the streets free. Chairperson of the Eldorado Park Social Crime Prevention Youth Desk, Chantelle Taylor, said a lot still needed to be done in the township, but efforts were limited by a lack of resources.