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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Conditional grant for scholar transport in the pipeline

A civil society group has welcomed the government’s plans to allocate ring-fenced funds for thousands of pupils in need of scholar transport. The announcement by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga yesterday followed the death of 18 pupils in Mpumalanga, who were ferried by privately hired minibus taxis to two Gauteng schools – Refano Primary and Mahlenga Secondary schools. Their taxi and a horse-and-trailer collided on the R25 between Bronkhorstspruit (Gauteng) and Groblersdal last month. The distance between Wolvenkop, where the pupils’ homes were, and Bronkhorstspruit, where they studied, was about 46km, according to Google. They travelled to Gauteng because their nearest schools were not offering isiZulu but isiNdebele.

 Motshekga told reporters at a media briefing in Parliament this week that at a meeting between the portfolio committee on education and basic education and officials from the transport department on Tuesday, the committee was told that norms and standards and an operational guideline for the pupil transport policy has been developed by the transport department.

 “Assessment of costing and funding for policy implementation is currently ongoing. Development of a standardised model contract to guide contracting authorities has been developed.

 “Both the basic education department and the transport department are closely monitoring the roll-out of the learner transport programmes,” Motshekga said.

 She said the policy provides for the establishment of a national inter-departmental committee to oversee the implementation of the learner transport programme.

 The committee is comprised of national and provincial transport departments and education departments.

 Motshekga said the committee met on quarterly basis to receive progress on the implementation of the learner transport programme.

 The committee reported to Motshekga and Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi.

 She said the inter-departmental committee was established and four meetings were held for the 2016-2017 financial year.

 Reports from the committee had been submitted.

 She said currently according to the national learner transport policy the beneficiaries of subsidised transport services need to be in line with the following criteria:

 Beneficiaries must be needy pupils from Grade R to Grade 12;

 • Transport will be subsidised to the nearest appropriate school only if the nearest school is more than 5km away and not to a school of parental choice;

 • Priority must be given to pupils with disabilities, taking into account the nature of the disability;

 • Priority must be given to primary school children who walk long distances to schools; and

• Existing transport services must be taken into account when identifying beneficiaries because no transport services would be provided in areas where public transport is available in order to avoid duplication of services and resources.

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City Press, 26/05/2017