'Money used on cars, not kids'

2009-08-27 22:05

Bloemfontein - A decision to cancel school transport routes, mostly for pupils in rural Free State areas, was heavily criticised by the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas) on Thursday.

Chief executive officer of Fedsas, Paul Colditz, said the body might consider going to court to ensure that the Free State education department made enough immediate transport available to pupils.

Colditz said new reports indicating that thousands of pupils near Bloemfontein would be left without school transport by the end of the month was nothing new.

"This is not a new problem. Fedsas has repeatedly sent media releases to bring this problem to the public's attention and similar transport problems affect almost the entire Free State."

Kids not in school for months

Colditz said there were children who had not been to school for months because they could not get there.

"At Oranjekrag in the Eastern Free State more than 90 learners have not been to school due to the provincial education department's decision to cancel transport routes or by not awarding transport tenders," he said in a statement.

Colditz said the body's national board had decided that the transport situation in the province could not continue as it was.

He said the board unanimously condemned the provincial education department's unilateral handling of this issue.

R11m for luxury cars

Colditz said Fedsas in the past voiced its disgust with the fact that the Free State's provincial government was prepared to spend some R11m on luxury vehicles for MECs, but primary school pupils had to walk vast distances to their schools.

The governing body said children had a constitutional right to basic education, but they could not lay claim to this right due to ill-considered decision by adults.

Colditz said Fedsas had already asked for answers from the Free State education department with the view of "testing it through the courts".

A spokesperson for the provincial education department, Solly Magalefa, confirmed that transport routes would be terminated by the end of the month.

Fedsas is a voluntary association of 11 000 school governing bodies of public schools.