Gaut­eng has big­gest need for scholar trans­port

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - MAY­I­BONGWE MAQHINA

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

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