Gauteng has biggest need for scholar transport
BASIC Education Minister Angie Motshekga says six provincial departments have not requested additional funding to cover a combined shortfall of R639 million for transporting schoolchildren.
Motshekga revealed this in a written parliamentary reply to a question by the DA. She said the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and North West did not request additional funding to transport schoolchildren.
“Information received from those provinces indicates that they have not as yet requested additional funding from the National Treasury to cover the shortfall in their 2017/18 scholar transport budgets,” the minister said.
“But discussions are under way within the provincial departments to seek mechanisms to address the shortages from their respective provincial budgets,” Motshekga pointed out.
During a presentation to the portfolio committee in May, the department reported that a total of 556 294 pupils needed transport.
Gauteng has the highest number of pupils set to benefit from school transport, with 109 618, followed by the Eastern Cape with 78 061 pupils, Mpumalanga 60 119 and the Western Cape 58 217.
The other provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal, had a number of pupils on the programme, ranging from 11 929 to 47 747.
Motshekga recently said a total of 465 977 pupils were using school transport as of April.
This mode of transport, which cost taxpayers R2.3 billion in the last financial year, was funded from the provincial equitable share grants.
This budget is not ring-fenced, a move that has prompted pressure group Equal Education to campaign for a special grant to be created to enable the programme to be adequately funded.
In a separate parliamentary reply to a question by Ian Ollis of the DA, Motshekga said the demand for scholar transport was expected to decrease between 2016/17 and 2017/18 in the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.
She said this was due to rationalisation, mergers and the closure of some schools as well as the verification of pupils who qualify to benefit from this service.
“Gauteng is experiencing an influx of learners from various provinces, with the resultant establishment of informal settlements where there are no schools, leading to an increase in the demand for learner transport,” Motshekga said.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the number was increasing as a result of the rationalisation of schools, and Limpopo projected an increase in demand due to relocation of communities from areas where there were schools to formal settlements without schools.
Motshekga said the priority was given to primary school pupils who walked long distances to school.
“Existing learner transport services must be taken into account when identifying beneficiaries, as no learner transport services will be provided in areas where public transport is available in order to avoid duplication of services and resources,” the minister added.
Four provinces have not asked for extra funding