Children from poor communities and homes in KwaZulu-Natal who have had to walk long distances to school will now be transported to school and be fed during lunch breaks.
The provincial department of education yesterday revealed that it would extending its school nutrition programme to quintile one high schools - schools in the poorest of communities.
It would also be providing transport to public school pupils from the deep rural areas and under-serviced areas.
Previously, the schools nutrition programme only benefited primary school pupils and free transport to public school pupils was unheard of.
MEC Ina Cronje said that going to school was usually an exciting and fun experience for young inquisitive minds, but for many rural children the journey was long and exhausting, often resulting in poor attendance and performance .
The provincial department has been allocated R87million for the 2009/10 financial year to provide pupil transport.
R21,75million has been set aside for special needs schools and R65,25million for ordinary schools.
"The identification of learner transport beneficiaries is done at school level. My department and the department of transport are exploring sound approaches to learner transport and we are finalising the plan for presentation to stakeholders," Cronje said.
Project manager Muzi Khumalo said the department is targeting pupils from the poorest communities who travel more than six kilometres to school.
"This is going to decrease rape incidents and we are confident that the number of dropouts will decrease."