About the Author(s)

Zetta van Eck symbol
Department of Humanities Education, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Johan Wassermann symbol
Department of Humanities Education, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Clinton D. van der Merwe Email symbol
Department of Humanities Education, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Van Eck, Z., Wassermann, J. & Van der Merwe, C.D., 2023, ‘Grade 6 primary school learners’ views on minibus taxis and their drivers’, South African Journal of Childhood Education 13(1), a1320. https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v13i1.1320

Original Research

Grade 6 primary school learners’ views on minibus taxis and their drivers

Zetta van Eck, Johan Wassermann, Clinton D. van der Merwe

Received: 20 Jan. 2023; Accepted: 07 June 2023; Published: 09 Oct. 2023

Copyright: © 2023. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background: This study identifies potential assets of the minibus taxi industry space and alerts taxi drivers to the expectations of various role-players in education, through understanding the views of various role-players about minibus taxi drivers and their role in supporting education.

Aim: Viewing the minibus taxi industry through alternative lenses may lead to development which may ultimately lead to an improvement in the attitudes of the taxi industry towards the education sector and perceived negative behaviour of taxi drivers.

Setting: The study took place at three schools in Gauteng, South Africa.

Methods: The study followed an interpretive, qualitative research approach for exploring and understanding various views. A case study design using Lefebvre’s, ‘Production of Space’ theory and asset-based theory, were used as a theoretical framework in conjunction with the Johari Window model. Convenient sampling was applied. Focus group interviews, semi-structured questionnaires, fieldnotes, and observation were used for data collection and construction.

Results: The results indicated that views which are embedded in individuals have many facets; hence, it is important to be aware of them to be able to identify the assets of minibus taxi drivers.

Conclusion: Minibus taxi drivers are key role players, valuable facilitators and role models for learners, although educational development is needed.

Contribution: Very little work has been done on the educational value of spaces such as taxis and transport vehicles; this research adds considerable value to this research lacuna.

Keywords: views; space; public minibus taxi drivers; scholar transport minibus taxi drivers; Johari Window.


Aside from a limited number of studies about the minibus taxi industry as an informal industry (Fourie 2003; Godsell 2016; McCormick et al. 2013; Moyake 2006; Schalekamp 2015), almost no research could be found that has been conducted on assessing the impact of minibus taxis on education and how it can be used as an asset to support education. One of the key stakeholders in the minibus taxi industry is the learners. In spite of that, educational support is not currently viewed as a role of the minibus taxi driver. Learners also have their own different and contradicting views on minibus taxis and their drivers. Some of the views are that minibus taxis are only providers of transport (Mthimkulu 2017; Woolf & Joubert 2014; Xhali 2003), but the minibus taxi space has social interaction linked to it. The views of learners and minibus taxi drivers are also not always valued as having the same weight in terms of importance as those of the authorities, in this case, government organisations and minibus taxi organisations. Hence, the research reported in this paper aims to explore the role that the minibus taxi industry can play in the education of learners who use minibus taxis as a mode of transport to school. In this paper, the views of Grade 6 learners, boys and girls in the age group 12–14 years, will be unpacked with the aim to understand how minibus taxi drivers and the minibus taxi vehicle space are perceived by the Grade 6 learners.

Moving from home (a controlled space) to the taxi rank (an uncontrolled space) into the minibus taxi (both controlled in terms of physical features and structure) and uncontrolled (in terms of what happens and is being said) and then into the school (a controlled and supposedly safe space) is a complex process – the main purpose of this research was to unpack and understand this use of space. This liminal space in the minibus taxi vehicle is imperative and significant for primary school learners. Space, as the literature revealed, is not static (Bernheimer 2017; Lefebvre 1991; Tonkiss 2005). Hence, minibus taxi space has meaning. It is very complex since the general public, learners, parents, educational institutions, adult passengers and minibus taxi drivers have unique and individual views about minibus taxi space. It is even more complicated because of the prevailing views on minibus taxis and drivers being tainted with existing experiences and expectations (Tonkiss 2005). All role players involved, consciously and unconsciously, should work together to create an educational space in the minibus taxi. The minibus taxi industry is an aspect of democratic, modern South African life. Its influence has far-reaching effects on almost all citizens’ daily routines. Furthermore, there were an estimated 12 932 565 school learners in South Africa in 2020, with 1.5 million from Gauteng, where the study took place, who were transported to schools or other educational institutions daily. It becomes clear that the minibus taxi as a transport option plays a significant role in the lives of numerous school-going learners, especially those in urban areas such as Gauteng (Mngaza, Van Zyl & Dhlamini 2001). Many learners use public transport, specifically minibus taxis, to reach their schools daily. Minibus taxis are the backbone of the transport industry, with an estimated 250 000 vehicles on the road (Vegter 2020; Wasserman 2019). They account for nearly 75% of public commuting services. This study argues that minibus taxi drivers and the taxi industry have untapped potential that, when unleashed, may support the education system by shifting their focus from mere transport to getting involved in the education sector.

An apt observation by Goodall (2015) is that it is absurd to lay all the responsibility for learners’ education at the feet of their schools or educational institutions. She furthermore asserts that what happens in the home, the car, and everywhere else, including minibus taxis, when they are not at school makes a difference to children (Goodall 2015). Previously, pedagogy referred to intentional acts of teaching in a set location like a school. However, when applied to areas other than schools, the concept has seen an upsurge in use in places like a school. Though, when applied to areas other than schools, the concept has seen an increase in use (Giroux 2004; Lingard & Gale 2007; Sandlin, O’Malley & Burdick 2011). In the case of this study, the site is the space in the minibus taxi vehicle that transports learners. Similar thinking by Ackhoff and Greenberg (2008) reiterates that learning and training should not take place in the formal setting of schools alone. They emphasise that learners look to adults to learn or imitate social behaviour, regardless of social status. These authors furthermore advise that in the absence of parents or caregivers, society should step into the void by ensuring that children grow up and eventually make a positive contribution to their community and country as adults.

Learners must be able to arrive at school safe and sound. Arriving on time means they can take advantage of the right to basic education as entrenched in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and the Scholar Transport Policy of the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) (GoE 2011). Concerning the transportation of learners, a high number of minibus taxis arrive at schools late in the mornings and learners are fetched late from school in the afternoons, despite the GDE declaring in their policy on learner transport that any late arrival of learners to schools, whether by private or public scholar transport service, is disruptive to learning and teaching and to the overall manner in which learners perform at the school (DoE 2011; Potgieter et al. 2012).

The influence of learner transport on the bigger transport scheme is significant, but it is also essential to look at the needs and challenges of the learners using transport daily (Mngaza et al. 2001). Although the National Land Transport Transition Act 22 of 2000 (NLTTA) necessitates that provincial governments and certain local governments improve the strategies for the means of transport of learners, it is a very complex situation because of the many stakeholders involved. It is clear from the National Land Transport Transition Act 22 of 2000 and proposed Gauteng Public Passenger Road Transport Act 7 of 2001 that the focus is on how transport challenges for learners can be addressed to ensure that learners get to school safely. An all-inclusive approach to learner transport is therefore imperative.

The GDE does not have a fleet of buses to transport learners to their respective learning institutions. Therefore, it outsources this function to capable service providers, which the GDE monitors. Public minibus taxis and scholar transport minibus taxis are not formally recognised as scholar transport by the National Department of Basic Education (DBE) (GDE 2011; Mngaza et al. 2001), yet they are the most shared mode of transport used by the greater part of the public in Gauteng and the country at large (Boudreaux 2006). This includes the education-related use of minibus taxis. In this regard, for example, the Greater Tshwane Metropolitan Council (Mngaza et al. 2001) found that 54.2% of all daily trips by people generated per household were education-related (Gauteng Household Travel Survey [GHTS] 2019/2020).

Our views about the world inform our every thought and action (Gray 2011). Thus, when we encounter a situation with a minibus taxi and think about it, our world view is active. Often, we are largely unaware of the minibus taxis until we experience a conflict situation with one of them. We become acquainted with worldviews and their matching values only when there is a clash of crisis according to Fulford (2011) and Gray (2011). Anderson (2004) concurs by saying that how you see the world is largely a function of where you view it from (passengers, learners, parents and minibus taxi drivers view minibus taxis differently); what you look at; what lens you use to help you see; what tools you use to clarify your image; what you reflect on; and how you report your world to others. Minibus taxi drivers’ world views differ vastly from those of other road users or their passengers. World views are very complex (Gray 2011). In philosophy, views are defined as an attitude – how one sees or thinks, a specified (or stated) manner of consideration. Our knowledge about reality is often relative to a certain point of view.

There are many factors outside an individual that impact the views held by them or how they view the world around them. Damen et al. (2019) agree and highlight that even though a person is made aware of another view, they will most likely hold on to their own. As a result, owing to our experiences with minibus taxi drivers, we view them in a particular manner. All individuals have a world view, but so too the institutions (Gray 2011). Lefebvre’s production of space theory and asset-based theory were used as the theoretical framework in conjunction with the Johari Window model to determine the views held by the Grade 6 learners.

Joseph Luft (1916 – 2014) and Harry Ingham (1916 – 1995) originally developed this model to describe four types of self. The model enables the opening of communication lines with others. The Johari Window provides a look into how we view ourselves and how others view us (Luft 1984; Luft & Ingham 1955). The Johari Window is a model to improve self-awareness and communication. The motivation for the use of the Johari Window in this study was, firstly, to explain the reason for the research to participants. Secondly, it was used to determine how the different role players in the minibus taxi industry and education viewed their respective roles. The adapted Johari window displayed in Table 1 represents minibus taxi drivers and other role players in education.

TABLE 1: Johari Window representing minibus taxi drivers and other role players in education.

This study intends to identify the views on minibus taxi drivers and their role in supporting education and to alert minibus taxi drivers to the expectations of various role players in education, namely learners, parents and teachers. In so doing, the possibility exists that the minibus taxi industry can become aware of ways and means to support education. Hence, viewing the minibus taxi industry through alternative lenses may lead to the development of a model that can be used to encourage and guide the empowerment of minibus taxi drivers on a micro level but not forgetting the macro level.

The need for transport: Mobility, access and efficiency

Mobility is not only about improving transport networks and facilities; it is about overcoming social, economic, political and physical barriers to travel. Affordable public transport is a significant part of economic and social well-being. This ensures that low-income households can afford access to healthcare, household goods, schooling, jobs and social events. Unaffordable and unsafe transport denies vulnerable groups, especially children, opportunities for good education and exacerbates poverty. Researchers concur with those above by saying that mobility includes experience, opportunity, challenge, temptation, and performance (Porter et al. 2010). Furthermore, these researchers argue that mobility and immobility are fundamental aspects that shape young people’s experience of urban life. It has a direct impact on their future life chances in sub-Saharan Africa. They further indicate that for many young people, mobility achieved may, on the one hand, be a basis for exhilaration, temptation, pleasure, inclusion, opportunity and apparent success; on the other hand, it may be a cause of exhaustion, danger and fear. In contrast, mobility frustration is most often seen purely in negative terms: a source of anger, hopelessness, exclusion and apparent failure. Mobility frustration may apply to Gauteng school learners and young people who frequently walk long distances or take public transport, for instance, minibus taxis, along busy corridors. This mobility frustration exposes them to harm, dangers and other hardships when they want to gain access to schools (Habitat 2000; Porter et al. 2010).

The involvement of the minibus taxi industry in transporting learners

At least 6 out of 10 young people (59%) attending school from Grades 1 to 9 live in households with a per capita monthly income of less than R6201 (eds. De Lannoy et al. 2015). Many of these children make use of public transport to attend school. They experience multiple forms of deprivation simultaneously. It is one of the many reasons we argue that the support from the minibus taxi industry for education is crucial. The minibus taxi industry has been a key player in providing transport to learners to attend school. The vehicles are privately owned with no government subsidies. These drivers are not part of the scholar transport system as indicated in the Gauteng province DoE’s Scholar Transport Policy of 2015. Minibus taxis serve 69.8% of pupils who use public transport for their school journeys (Statistics SA 2020). Compared to other modes of public transport, the success of minibus taxis can be attributed to the accessibility they deliver to destinations at a fair price with relative frequency (Jan Mohammed et al. 2019).

Reasons for learners to make use of minibus taxi transport

Children and youth comprise 69% of the 2.7 million children in South Africa who use minibus taxi transport to attend school (Statistics SA 2013, 2020). It is vital to explore and comprehend children’s mobility limitations and access needs. In so doing, well-informed transport policies and programmes may be developed that fulfil their access requirements. Typically, planning leans towards the needs of traditional users through enhanced transit infrastructure and services, despite children representing a significant number of existing and prospective transport users who are left out in this process. This is an inadvertence, considering that in most developing countries, including South Africa, children and young people comprise 35% of the population (Makiwane, Gumede & Zembe 2021). Children have different access needs and desires for transport than the general adult passengers. They should be considered key stakeholders in the development of transport (Ipingbemi & Aiworo 2013). School learners travel long distances to school and spend extensive time getting to school. These trips usually occur at rush hour and have the same endpoint everywhere. According to research conducted in Nigeria, children’s everyday commute to school, whether by walking or public transportation, exposes them to potential anti-social behaviour and crime, leading to general fear and anxiety (Holtmann & Van Vuuren 2007). Kruger and Landman (2007) agree with this viewpoint, indicating a strong link between crime and the physical environment, for example, minibus taxi stops and motor parks or taxi ranks which are poorly managed with poor infrastructure. They noted that the users of public transport (minibus taxis) and non-motorised transport were more likely to suffer consequences of crime and anti-social behaviour than automobile users. They argued that the considerable time involved in travelling to educational institutions increased the chances of victimisation (Ipingbemi & Aiworo 2013). Mbara and Celliers (2013) mentioned congestion, resulting in late arrivals and missing some lectures, harassment from taxi drivers and muggings among other things as contributing factors to this wearisome school journey. Children and youths made use of minibus taxis for social activities. Children, adolescents and young adults indicated that they prefer using minibus taxis. It allowed them to socialise with friends on their way to school or other destinations. But on the flip side, young girls indicated fear when alone in the minibus taxi or on their own late at night (Hampshire et al. 2011). This issue will be discussed in more detail later in this paper. Mobility provides independence for young people. It is a space and time for young people to be more autonomous. It is a liminal space in which their behaviour is not subject to parental supervision and guidance, which is necessary for them to develop into responsible adults, but, in the process, many times, the boundaries become distorted. It leads to abuse and harassment of these youngsters (Hampshire et al. 2011). Poverty shapes the way young people move through space; but moving through these spaces also shapes young people. It is how they navigate to adulthood, unsafe to safe (Hampshire et al. 2011).

The effect of minibus taxi transport on the performance and behaviour of learners

Throughout the journey to school, children come across a wide range of encounters that can affect their learning, their social skills or even their mental health. In many cases, learners using public transport come from disadvantaged areas, which escalates the strain they might experience on their way to school. They rely on public transport, but minibus taxis may be unreliable and dangerous because of the poor condition of these vehicles. The direct and indirect costs of these practices of moving to school have a disproportionate effect on children from poor families which then has an influence on their education (Jacobs et al. 2018; Porter et al. 2010). Physical transport circumstances of access to education, dangers and time travelled, all impact learners’ physiological welfare. Porter et al. (2010) note that not having safe and dependable transport to school has a harmful effect on children’s access to education. Many children who do not have reliable and safe transport do not finish school.

Behavioural problems like fighting and out-of-seat actions are not unfamiliar when transporting a group of learners. Interesting research done by Mccarty et al. (1978) to address challenging behaviour of learners making use of bus transportation demonstrated that music as a group contingency for appropriate bus-riding behaviour was an effective tool. As discussed further in this paper, passengers identified loud music as very disturbing.

Another social ill that is being dealt with more often in schools but that can also arise on scholar transportation is bullying. Sims (2014) points out that bullying is the violent behaviour or forcefulness centred on a disproportion in power between the wrongdoer and victim on a repeated basis, whereas aggressive and violent behaviours can take place without a disproportion in power and on a once-off basis.

The minibus taxi driver may not observe pushing, pinching, shoving behaviour or verbal bullying such as name calling, verbal comments, or insults about race, cultural differences, or sexual preferences because (s)he is focused on the road and transporting passengers safely. In terms of bullying, learners who are very young and learners with disabilities are vulnerable and more at risk. In our opinion, even if the minibus taxi drivers do observe bullying behaviour, they are not trained nor empowered to handle it effectively in an educational manner.

Non-traditional educational spaces – Extending the classroom to the minibus taxi

Alternative education, non-traditional education, incidental learning, fluid intelligences and the hidden curriculum are all concepts that came to mind when we considered the possibility of the minibus taxi driver supporting activities that take place in a classroom. The minibus taxi space becomes an extension of the school, an educational space. In a research done by Perez (2017), he defined learning as a process and not a product and highlighted a variety of teaching methods and learning spaces. The changes require a variety of diverse spaces for learning. The minibus taxi space as an alternative learning space also encapsulates the hidden curriculum. Miller and Seller (1990) explain that the undeclared or implicit beliefs, behaviours, procedures and conventions that exist in the educational system are referred to as the hidden curriculum. While such expectations are not explicitly stated, the hidden curriculum is the implicit encouragement and implementation of specific behavioural patterns, professional standards and societal attitudes while navigating a learning environment (Feinberg & Soltis 2004; Miller & Seller 1990). Within the minibus taxi space, it will be the unspoken, unofficial norms, behaviours and values of the dominant culture context (the minibus taxi industry) in which teaching and learning are taking place (Mullis 2019). Hence, in the minibus taxi space, it is of value to consider that the hidden curriculum can play a positive or negative role, because it is conveyed indirectly by words and actions that are part of the life of everyone in society and in the minibus taxi vehicle. If the minibus taxi drivers are aware of the hidden curriculum’s influence, they can review their personal attitudes to their passengers (Alsubaie 2015; Jerald 2006; Mullis 2019) and influence positive change.

Educational opportunities inherent in the minibus taxi industry involved in transporting learners

The engine of education is communication. To elaborate, communication is a process using words, sounds, signs or behaviour to express ideas, thoughts and feelings to another person. It can also be used to discipline. Effective communication is a two-way process and is used on a daily basis (Sims 2014). When learners are transported to school by their parents in private vehicles, the space provides the parent with an opportunity to communicate and interact with the child in an educational manner. Among other things, it provides an opportunity to review schoolwork, prepare for an assessment or to read aloud. It is, furthermore, an opportunity to discuss what is happening in the space around them on their journey to the school, which is, in itself educational. Needless to say, this does not happen when children, usually from disadvantaged circumstances, are obligated to make use of minibus taxi transportation. For this reason, it is worthwhile to identify and understand the views of Grade 6 learners to be able to alert taxi drivers to the expectations and their role in supporting education.

Research methods

Study design

The research reported in this paper addresses the following question: ‘What are the views on minibus taxi drivers and their role in supporting education’. The phenomenon studied was based on opinions hence, the study was situated within an interpretivist paradigm. It lends itself to qualitative research with the main focus being the interest in people and the way that they interconnect, what they think, how they form ideas about the world and how their worlds are created (Creswell 2008; Henning, Van Rensburg & Smit 2004; Maree & Van Der Westhuizen 2009; Thomas 2013). A multiple case study design was followed, owing to not having control over the actual behaviour of the participants or the environment in which the participants find themselves; thus, the focus is on the contemporary. The research question sought to explain and understand, in depth, the present circumstances in the minibus industry and education. As a research method, a case study design was used to contribute to our knowledge of individual, group, organisational, social, political and other related phenomena (Yin 2009). The case study design’s unique strength lies in its ability to deal with a full variety of evidence. In this study, this included documents, semi-structured group interviews, critical group discussions, questionnaires and observations. Furthermore, multiple case studies were used to investigate the different views held by the various role players (minibus taxi drivers and schools). The use of multiple cases provides the opportunity for a robust study, which strengthens the findings compared to a single case alone (Yin 2009). Figure 1 is a schematic representation of Site B, a Primary School.

FIGURE 1: Schematic representation of Site B – Primary School.


This research was completed in the sixth administration of a democratic South Africa. The provisioning of transport has remained one of the crucial challenges confronting the Government, which is of high importance bearing in mind the role that geographical zoning plays in the admission of learners to schools (Bell & McKay 2011). The particular participants of the case were bound by a specific district, primary school and grade (Yin 2008).

Study population and sampling strategy

Leedy and Ormrod (2005) emphasise that the sample should be so carefully selected that through it the investigator is able to see all the features of the total population in the same relationship that would be seen were the investigator, in fact, to examine the total population. In this study, purposively selected participants were interviewed in focus groups (Creswell 2008, 2014; Gray 2004; Williams 2007).

All the primary school learners in the study were from Grade 6; of the identified 156 learners, 142 learners completed the questionnaire. Inclusion criteria required all the Grade 6 learners, which provided data from users and non-users of minibus taxi transport. It provided in-depth views of Grade 6 learners on minibus taxi drivers. The drivers and the School Governing Body (SGB) and parents also participated in this study.

Data collection

Case studies combine a multiplicity of data collection methods, namely observation, interviews, questionnaires and archives (Briggs, Coleman & Morrison 2014) which are ideal methods to ensure the safety of participants. Hence, focus group interviews, critical discussions, questionnaires and observation were used to ensure that the data gathering was systematic and would provide a permanent record of what took place.

The data analysis

The data analysis was done in an inductive manner, building from particular to general themes (Briggs et al. 2014; Creswell & Creswell 2018). Creswell’s (2012) six steps to analyse data as well as data analysis for a case study research design (Creswell 2009; Yin 2009) were used. The first step was to manage the data. The data were analysed by grouping it into types, such as questionnaires, focus group interviews, critical discussion groups and a research diary. Thereafter, the data were arranged into cases, namely drivers, learners, SGBs and parents. The handwritten responses were captured into electronic format which could be worked with in a more efficient and effective manner. It provided opportunity to do initial coding, and notes describing the cases and their context, which is in line with Creswell (2009). The Johari Window model was applied as the final level of analysis to have a better understanding of the participants’ views.

Ethical considerations

The following measures were taken to ensure ethical research was undertaken; firstly, application for ethical clearance from the ethics committee at the university and permission from the DBE, GDE. Secondly, the principals and SGBs of the specific schools (Maree & Van Der Westhuizen 2009) were informed and presented with the permission documentation.

A letter and an informed consent form that described the nature of the research project and the nature of the participant’s involvement were sent to the learners and parents via the school. Before this was done, a meeting was held with the principal of the school, who, in turn, discussed the research with the school’s governing body to get permission and input from them; thereafter, the letters were sent out. The information from those learners whose parents did not want their children to participate was not used and destroyed. Informed consent and the right to privacy were core considerations. Confidentiality is of the utmost importance; the names of all participants were kept confidential and replaced with codes and the same process was followed with the schools. As this was qualitative research, the researcher gained a deep, intense and holistic overview of the phenomenon under study, that is, the minibus taxi drivers and the taxi industry. It further involves interacting with the everyday lives of individuals, groups, communities and organisations that are part of the minibus taxi industry. The researchers’ role was one of conducting interviews with the respective participants and capturing data about the role players in this specific area of study, which means that the researcher had to be attentive, suspend preconceptions and be empathetic to those being studied (Gray 2009).


The application of the Johari Window to the data analysis process generated the following views from the Grade 6 learners. The views are presented according to the window panes of the Johari Window.

The blind-spot pane revealed that parents paid a monthly fee to the driver to take their children to the school; hence, they were under the impression that their children were safe at school when, in fact, they were not. As one learner indicated:

‘I thought that he fetches us at his own time and when he doesn’t want to take us to school he will plan with the other drivers and we will be absent at school.’ (N24M)

while another stated:

‘Sometimes he put me in another transport, I think it is not safe.’ (N129ST)

From the known pane, it emerged that learners had been in accidents while they travelled to school. Interestingly, the learners were very specific about the issues regarding the vehicles. They gave the following examples:

‘They don’t service it, it is the exhaust pipe.’ (N127)

‘I think the taxi is a scrapyard. The driver does not obey the rules of the road. On Monday we had an accident because of the driver.’ (N137)

‘When we were coming to school the door of the car opened [and] one kid came out – lucky no car passed.’ (N97A)

The open pane brought to the fore the limited transport options for these Grade 6 learners from township areas to reach school. They had no other choice other than to make use of unroadworthy vehicles. It further emerged that the cleanliness of the vehicles was of high importance to the learners and to a lesser extent to the drivers. Learners also cited that their parents did not wake up early enough to take them to school, saying:

‘Because I don’t have any option, if I go with my dad I will be very late for school.’ (N44W)

‘To go to school but I hate it.’ (N41W)

‘… to get to school, I live in the township it is hard.’ (N119LMBT)

It was clear from the manner in which the learners responded that it was no easy ride for them on more than one level.

After careful analysis, the blind spot pane exposed systemic oppression. The blind spot pane revealed that the space inside the scholar transport vehicle was filled with invisible happenings from marketing to manipulation. Hence, it highlighted the very important role that the drivers play and also brought to the fore the immense power the drivers have. Learners mentioned days were special when it was the driver’s or one of their friends’ birthdays. Then they sang songs and might be given something nice to eat. It was understandable that communication played a role in the positive experience learners had about the drivers. It showed interest and care:

‘I didn’t like anything at all today because he likes to shout at us and explain things that we don’t want to hear.’ (N57W)

The hidden pane showed that learners, despite their age, were aware of their transport consumer rights and had very high expectations of the drivers. Learners expected drivers to cultivate a space of caring and respect in the vehicle in order to be seen in a positive light. The learners said:

‘They [drivers] can treat us like passengers. They can stop beating us. I can stop disrespecting him. Stop swearing at each other. Make sure that we eat.’ (N35M)

‘I don’t like the driver because he terrorises children and he doesn’t like us.’ (N49W)

The young learners even gave advice on how drivers could improve, for example:

‘Drive properly, wake up early and drink coffee [to] make sure they are not half asleep.’ (N31M)

The analysis of the hidden pane showed that the scholar transport vehicle is literally and figuratively a mode to reach goals and dreams for the learners and drivers. However, it emerged that the drivers did not value the space in the vehicle enough and also did not use it optimally. The hidden pane brought to the fore bullying behaviour from the drivers towards and between the learners. One remark from a learner was shocking and must have impacted the learner very negatively on an emotional and psychological level:

‘One of my transport mates’ mom and dad past [sic] away and she said she [the driver] doesn’t care … all she wants is her money and she said they are burning in hell. Just because my transport mates’ parents couldn’t pay because her parents were sick.’ (N18M)

It is difficult to understand why the drivers did not act as role models. The hidden pane revealed that learners are in some instances exposed to sexual harassment and sexual grooming in the space of the vehicle. It can then be said that the space in the vehicle can disempower learners. When the driver treated the learners with respect, kindness, and care, they liked travelling in the minibus taxis. They also mentioned that there were times when the drivers bought them sweets and food. This can be seen as passenger care and, in a way, marketing but there were warning lights too as one learner indicated:

‘He [the driver] gave me a Coca-Cola today. He was making jokes, we made it on time to school. He took a picture of me.’ (N81A)

‘He fetched me at 04:30 [am] and he bought us cheese snacks [and] because he fetched us early we played touch in the minibus.’ (N9M)

Another learner responded:

‘He [the driver] shouted at me and he always looks at my older sister badly …’ (N19N)

The behaviour of the taxi driver might be seen as manipulative as:

‘… he did not play music and he did not make my favourite lunch this week, he did not let me connect his phone.’ (N81A)

Drivers also asked learners to open and close the minibus taxis’ door which the learners did not like doing. It is dangerous for the learners to open and close the sliding door of the vehicle for other learners, especially for the younger learners who tend to hold onto the door as they disembark.

The hidden pane also revealed that adults (drivers and parents) were the reason for the learners’ late arrival at school. From the pane it was clear that good hygiene, self-care and self-respect were very important aspects for learners; thus, the manner in which the drivers act, speak and dress is linked to the image of the learners when they share the vehicle space.

The analysis of the hidden pane showed that the noise levels brought about by the music and hooting of the minibus taxis were experienced negatively by the learners:

‘The minibus had loud music and he did not stop when the robot was red – he just goes and he did not stop he was busy swearing people.’ (N87A)

‘I did not like the way our driver made us sit. I also did not like the music that was playing; it was not nice. I liked nothing, nothing.’ (N61W)

In a way, the hidden pane mirrored what learners learned at school. It emerged from the hidden pane that horizontal oppression takes place between learners and drivers. Furthermore, the hidden pane revealed that learners are exposed to a variety of cognitive, emotional and social values, perspectives and identity development that take place in the scholar transport vehicle space. They learn independence, peer relations and mature into adolescents. However, the hidden pane also exposed the quality of adult-child relationships. Although hardship is associated with public minibus taxis and scholar transport minibus taxis on different levels, the learners showed emotional intelligence and valued the opportunity to attend school. Also, of importance, which was shown by the unknown pane, was that overcrowding violated the personal space of primary school learners. Primary school learners had different ways of thinking about the minibus taxi or scholar transport space. The views of the learners can be divided between the space in the vehicle (minibus taxi) and the space in which the minibus taxi operates, which is the geographical area of the megacity of Johannesburg in the case of this study. How learners viewed the space inside the minibus taxi was closely related to what the minibus taxi driver did in this space which means that the behaviour of the drivers should set an example; hence, they became role models. Learners highlighted that the minibus taxi space was overcrowded most of the time. So much so that they sometimes had to stand the entire journey to school, placing them inside each other’s personal space. This personal space was violated by fellow learners fighting and even adults who disrespected their personal space. This violation of personal space made them scared. Learners mentioned that fellow learners carried knives and physically fought in the compact vehicle space with the driver not addressing it. As learners mentioned, there was also a lack of filters provided by parents who accompanied learners on their journey to school. Learners commented:

‘There was an impolite man who just had shoved my brother out of his way and kept on annoying my siblings and I. He was holding a bottle of beer and his mouth smelt very bad.’ (N4M)

‘He [the driver] was swearing as he is not a good person they are cronies in the car and he doesn’t drop me early and he likes to smoke.’ (N49W)

The space in the minibus taxi or transport vehicle is, in many cases, being used to disregard rules. The driver then also breaks the rules, which should be adhered to in the space outside the vehicle, that is, the geographical area in which the vehicle operates. On a daily basis, these young learners find themselves in this undisciplined, rule-breaking space with the driver being an adult who should set an example. As adults, the drivers should be aware of the example they set for learners in their company. This behaviour places the learner in two minds. On the one hand, the school as a space operates around time, punctuality, discipline and rules that should be adhered to. On the other hand, many public minibus taxi drivers disregard the road rules and act in a disrespectful manner to other road users. This may lead to learners being confused about rules and it may impact negatively on their behaviour at school and subsequently impact on their academic performance.

The individual panes – known, blind, hidden or unknown – operate on three levels. This typology treats space as the product of practice, perception and imagination. Hence, the same spaces were reproduced, represented and experienced in different ways by the various role players (Tonkiss 2005). This makes understanding and changing the minibus taxi industry very complex. Behaviour cannot be changed without changing the culture; thus, we have to address the conditions which encourage and constrain actions, as much as the actions themselves. Many of our reactions and actions are not logical; we have an emotional relationship with the spaces in our lives, just as we do with people (Bernheimer 2017).

This study proposes an adapted Johari Window model to explain the phenomenon of views, and specifically the views held about minibus taxis by various role players in the education system, why it is held, and their role in supporting education. Views that are embedded in individuals have many facets; hence, it is of importance to be aware of them to be able to identify the assets of minibus taxi drivers. It might impact positively on the support given to education which further influences development of drivers and education.

Figure 2 is a representation of a combination of the Johari Window and the typology of space to be applied to views. Knowing why specific views are held, tainted with the typology of space, practice, perception and imagination, highlights that the space in a minibus taxi vehicle is not empty (Lefebvre 2002, 2020). The study confirms the indirect role that the space inside the minibus taxi and minibus taxi drivers play in promoting or not promoting support for education. Minibus taxi drivers act as mediators between home and schools, and schools and the future educational goals of learners.

FIGURE 2: Representation of a combination of the Johari Window and the typology of space to be applied to views.

In a way public minibus taxis and scholar minibus drivers facilitate education because they transport students to school. Hence, the minibus taxi space plays a vital role in the relationship between education and the minibus taxi industry with the minibus taxi drivers as the link. As a result of the study, the findings should enhance our knowledge of the impact of views on our behaviour and an appreciation for the role the drivers play in the economy as mobility service providers and employers (Woolf & Joubert 2014).

It became clear that in many ways that we, as a South African society are shaped by the space inside the minibus taxis and scholar transport minibus taxis. We believe that collectively (drivers, SGBs and learners) hold the power to redefine the minibus space through small collective actions – we should create little ecosystems of education. We cannot change the behaviour of the drivers without addressing the culture of the space in which they operate; thus, we have to address the conditions of the space to encourage and constrain action as much as the actions of the drivers. Drivers and the general public’s actions are not always logical; therefore, we need an alternative view and use of the minibus taxi space with education and pedagogy as the baseline. Minibus taxi drivers have an obligation, just like any other South African citizen and road user, to obey the rules of the road and build a resilient future in shaping the minibus taxi space, but also their own individual futures and those of learners. Where there is a minibus taxi wheel turning, there should be a minibus taxi driver willing to support education.


This study leads to the conclusion that a partnership between schools and the drivers could significantly contribute towards transformation on a small scale. A partnership between drivers and the school can be a basis for a mutual beneficial supportive relationship in the sense that if drivers receive development with a pedagogical basis, they will then be able to act as role models and realise that the space in their vehicles has an impact on the learners they transport.

Whatever criticisms have been made by participants’ views in this study, the strongest single theme in their view and evaluation of minibus taxi drivers is that they are key role players, valuable facilitators, and role models for learners, although educational development is needed. Development with a pedagogical basis was identified by various role players and drivers as an essential aspect for the constructive use of the space in the vehicle to support education. Our view is that this fundamentally optimistic perspective provides fruitful ground for further study aimed at refining the partnership between minibus taxi drivers and schools to the point where it can become a model of educational support and excellence. Imagine if all public minibus taxi drivers and scholar transport drivers and their vehicle spaces could be used for intentional and milieu learning while they operate in city spaces.


The authors would like to thank all the taxi drivers and participants that were a part of this study.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

Authors’ contributions

This article forms part of Z.v.E. thesis; she did the research, data collection and main write-up. J.W. and C.D. v.d.M. were her supervisors who helped conceptualise and refine this article.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are not openly available due to confidentiality and are available from the corresponding author, C.D. v.d.M., upon reasonable request.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors, and the publisher.


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1. South African Rand is US$0.061. R620 would be equivalent to US$38.11.

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