SA schools may bring in driving lessons

2009-12-10 00:00

WITH roughly 6 000 high schools in the country, matric can yield a crop of between 400 000 and 450 000 graduates per year.

That’s how many people are likely to benefit from the learner’s licence initiative proposed by Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele from as early as next year, if approved.

Ndebele wants grade 11 pupils to be able to take learner’s licence tests at school.

Department spokesman Logan Maistry said statistics show that out of a population of 49 million people in South Africa, only seven million are licensed drivers.

For SA to move from a developing country to a developed one, basics like having a driver’s licence need to be in place.

“To get access to the job market nowadays you need to have a licence for most jobs. The minister wants to give our learners that opportunity. Another thing is the fact that there are around 14 000 deaths on our roads each year [which costs] the country more than R50 billion.”

Maistry stressed that this initiative goes beyond just the learner’s and driver’s licences.

“We are trying to work with the Education Department so that road safety starts at that level, where at grade 1, the children are taught about crossing the road. And as they progress, by grade 11 they are allowed to obtain their learner’s and by grade 12 their driver’s licence.”

But Maistry said nothing is clear-cut yet.

Officials are still in discussions to address the finer details and address issues such as the likely cost to parents, whether driving schools will be brought in and whether cars will be made available to pupils to progress to learning how to drive before their learner’s licences lapse (after 18 months).

“Our provincial offices will be able to give an indication of which schools are ready because some schools will be faster than others. But the hope is it will start rolling out next year.”

Hope Mokgatlhe, spokeswoman for Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, said the department is in support of anything aimed at empowering pupils as long as it does not disturb their core function, learning.

She said Motshekga has welcomed the news but her conversations with Ndebele thus far have been informal. They are still awaiting proper documentation on how it will work.

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