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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Cabinet's Learner Transport policy wholly inadequate - DA

This week Cabinet approved a totally inadequate National Learner Transport Policy, bypassing Parliament in the process.

The DA believes that all children, no matter the circumstances of their birth, should be aided in any way possible to access quality education. This policy does not seek to do that and should be revised.

The policy is supposed to put learners first through guidelines for effective, efficient and safe learner public transport services.

There are however some crucial omissions from the policy, including:

  • Clear criteria for who qualifies for assistance or subsidy;
  • Guidelines for the furthest distance a child should walk before they qualify for transport;
  • A funding model that ensures every child benefits;
  • Quality or safety standards for transporting learners; and
  • Alternatives to existing models, for example, the Government having its own fleet or schools having their own buses.

The DA calls for public comment to be opened for a second time and for the policy to be returned to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, so that we may ensure that no learner is left behind.

One third of learners who require transport are not being provided with it. This means that far greater care must go into the policy to ensure that learners are able to access the education they deserve.

It is worth noting how Cabinet came to bypass Parliament in passing the National Learner Transport Policy:

The first presentation by the Department of Transport to the Portfolio Committee on this policy was rejected.

The second presentation resulted in consensus amongst members that much needs to be altered to make the policy meaningful.

This led to a formal request by the Chair for a revised version to be returned to the committee before finalisation. The revised version was not presented to the Committee and we were unable to comment.

As it turns out, the Transport Department submitted the policy to Cabinet without the knowledge of Basic Education officials who presented the draft policy to Parliament

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