Residents of Vuwani in Limpopo are now breathing a sigh of relief after total shutdown in the area was lifted.
This means back to school for more than 1 600 Grade 12 learners who were affected by the protests.
During the shutdown in the area, schools and businesses in surrounding villages were closed.
In a statement issued on Monday, Department of Basic Education confirmed that the total shutdown was lifted in Vuwani, outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo, following a mass meeting held on Monday morning where community members decided to suspend their protest in order to ensure learners would not be adversely affected.
Residents took to the streets last month, demanding an implementation of resolutions announced by President Jacob Zuma in July, after months of protests over a municipal demarcation dispute.
Protests broke out in the area in 2016 following a decision by the Municipal Demarcation Board to incorporate parts of Vuwani into a new municipality with Malamulele‚ which currently goes under the name LIM 345.
The community wants to fall back under the Makhado municipality.
The basic education minister Angie Motshekga welcomed the decision of the Vuwani community in Limpopo to lift the total shutdown.
“We are very pleased that learners will be able to resume schooling, especially our Grade 12 learners who we have been very worried about as the countdown to the start of examinations draws closer, we are ready to implement the catch-up plan for learners to ensure they are ready for their examination,” said Motshekga.
The department also said it will be working closely with the Provincial Department of Education to monitor “the implementation of a comprehensive catch up plan to ensure learners are adequately supported and prepared to sit for this year’s exams.”
A total of 636 814 full-time Grade 12 learners and 161 475 part-time candidates are registered to sit for the examinations.
KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have the largest enrolments again with 169 023 and 112 164 respectively. Limpopo has 110 639 while Eastern Cape registered 92 755 candidates for the 2017 exams.
Motshekga further expressed her gratitude to the Vuwani community for ensuring schools reopened.
“We would like to expressly appreciate the support and cooperation of the Vuwani community for working with us in prioritising education and ensuring learners can return to school,” she said.