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Safety in numbers

By February 2, 2018July 11th, 2019No Comments
child safety awareness

In June 2017, the Cape Town township of Wesbank hit the headlines with news of its ‘walking bus’. The initiative is a joint effort between the community, the school and law enforcement officers as a way to enable its pupils to move safely to and from school each day covering a route distance ranging from 1 km to 1.52 km.

The concept behind a walking bus is simple: it’s a form of student transport for schoolchildren that is chaperoned by at least two adults (a ‘driver’ who leads and a ‘conductor’ that follows). Together the group walks along a set route, and just like a traditional bus, it has designated bus stops and pick up times.

The idea of the pedestrian bus is not new. It was invented by Australian David Engwicht in 1992 with the goal of:

  • Encouraging physical activity by teaching children the skills to walk safely, how to identify safe routes to school, and the benefits of walking
  • Reduce crime and take back neighbourhoods for people on foot
  • Reduce traffic congestion, pollution, and speed near schools
  • Share valuable time with local community leaders, parents, and children.


In South Africa the walking bus has been adopted by a number of communities struggling with gang violence. Many parents weren’t in the position to escort their children to school, which meant that learners were often bullied, harassed or even killed in cross fire. So, residents and volunteers have banded together to ensure learners’ safety and protection from both gang activity and potential road and traffic hazards.

In 2016, the SA Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) reported pupil absenteeism levels of up to 63% in vulnerable communities. Now, the walking bus means that children can travel to and from schools along agreed on ‘safe movement corridors’, which are supported by neighbourhood watches, the police, metro police and other agencies. To date, the parents, learners and teachers of Princeton Secondary School, Woodlands Secondary School, Highlands Primary School, Woodville Primary School and Northwood Primary School have embraced the walking bus initiative with positive results.