Pupil transport plan

2019-10-24 15:14
Kusukela namhlanje omalume abasavumelekile ukuthutha izingane zesikole ngamaveni.PHOTO:file

Kusukela namhlanje omalume abasavumelekile ukuthutha izingane zesikole ngamaveni.PHOTO:file

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The Department of Education intends to release a draft policy on scholar transport for public comment by the end of next month.

This comes in the wake of a community and membership-based movement, Equal Education, turning to the Pietermaritzburg high court to hold the department accountable to provide a clear policy on the manner that pupils are transported to school.

The popular form of transportation by bakkie has raised concerns about the safety of children following a number of accidents over several years in which some pupils have lost their lives.

A consent order was granted when the case returned to court yesterday.

In terms of it, it was agreed that should the department not publish the draft policy for comment by January 30, it must provide Equal Education with an embargoed copy of it.

Two years ago, the court ordered the department to provide destitute pupils in 12 specific schools with transport, which was done. There was also a supervisory order compelling reporting on the status of the policy on scholar transport in the province.

Wednesday’s hearing was concerned with whether the department and the other 30 parties involved have satisfactorily complied with that order.

Equal Education was unhappy with the reports that have so far been provided, saying the department failed to report adequately on specific aspects.

Commenting after the case yesterday, Equal Education facilitator Nontsikelelo Sibiya said: “We feel very happy about the small victories we are able to claim.

“Without a proper policy, the KZN Department of Education cannot properly decide who should qualify for scholar transport, how it should plan and budget properly, who the relevant roleplayers are and what their roles should be, nor what alternative modes of transport should be used,” said Sibiya.

She added that it is hoped that the draft policy will address the clear division of responsibility between the provincial departments of Education and Transport; how government will plan and implement the policy; how they will fund scholar transport; and what alternative types of transport they will consider providing.

Advocates Andrea Gabriel, SC, and Deborah Marie Ainslie, said in heads of argument on behalf of Equal Education that the case involves the inability of young pupils who are in need of subsidised scholar transport to get to school in order to make their right of access to basic education a reality. “Despite a supervisory order granted two years ago, government is yet to provide the transport. While the destitute learners in 12 schools were provided with transport in terms of the order, nothing has been done for the other learners around the province,” said the advocates.

The circumstances confronting pupils in the province and their need for subsidised transport are undisputed. More than 300 000 scholars are in need of transport and qualify for state subsidised transport to school.

For the department, advocate Mike Govindasamy, SC, said that that two reports were filed last year and on October 1 the department had informed Equal Education that it will be filing additional reports.

He said that a draft scholar transport policy has been finalised. It includes provisions relating to pupils with disabilities. “The necessary processes are being put in place to publish the draft for stakeholders and public comments,” he said.

He added the specific responsibilities of the Education and Transport departments have now been clarified.

Some road accidents involving school children

This week 13 children were injured when the bakkie they were travelling in crashed into the wall of a house on Samela Road in Imbali. There were 17 children in total in the bakkie.

Last week 14 children on their way home from school were injured when the minibus taxi they were travelling in crashed into a vehicle on Wiggins Road in Cato Manor.

In June, a Toyota Hilux bakkie, transporting 22 people — mainly high and primary school pupils — collided with a VW Polo in northern KwaZulu-Natal. A number of children had minor to moderate injuries.

In 2015, eight primary school pupils from Pietermaritzburg were killed when the driver of the bakkie they were travelling in crashed into a house in Imbali. The children attended Fezokuhle Primary School.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  learner transport
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