New policy to curb pupils’ road deaths

2013-01-29 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education has developed the “learner transport policy” for public schools to curb the number of road deaths involving school pupils.

This policy will be announced on Friday, and the departments of education and transport will be working together.

Ten Okhombe Primary School children who were travelling home by bus from a sports outing were killed near Bergville in September last year. The taxi they were travelling in hit a stray cow and plunged into the Venterstroom River about 10 metres below.

The department decided to suspend all school excursions in the province in the wake of the accident.

However, the MEC for Education Senzo Mchunu, who spoke to The Witness before the announcement, said that instead of suspending all excursions, the department had put new conditions in place to govern all school trips.

“There will now be rules that will guide school trips to try to prevent accidents,” Mchunu said.

Both departments will discuss how to organise school trips and the role of transport officials. The officials will be responsible for the roadworthiness of the vehicle used, ­Mchunu said.

Again, an announcement would be made of officials who will authorise transportation.

“When you look back to the taxi that killed those children in Bergville, you do think to yourself ‘Maybe the taxi was speeding’. So these are some of the factors we’ll look at,” he added.

“We had to learn the hard way,” Mchunu said.

The department said the new policy was aimed at ensuring that even pupils in disadvantaged communities and in remote rural areas had access to schools and could safely participate in all activities and ultimately become part of the active economy.

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