Inadequate learner transport a major concern before schools reopen in KZN

There are growing concerns about the safety of learner transport in KZN
There are growing concerns about the safety of learner transport in KZN
Image: .Gallo Images/Die Burger/Jaco Marais

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has raised concerns about the scholar transport system in the KwaZulu-Natal education department. 

The committee visited the province on Tuesday to asses school readiness for this year’s academic year. Even though the committee lauded the province in ensuring readiness of the basic education sector to welcome pupils, it called on the department to conclude its preparations and finalise the finer details in its checklist of areas to ensure full readiness of the system.

Committee chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba said the work done by the department was commendable but there were areas of concern that needed urgent action  to make the system full-proof ready for the first day of schooling.

“Some of the areas of concern that need urgent attention include the provision of learner transport, provision of water, completion of placement of learners and filing of vacant positions within the system. The committee was informed  that due to budgetary constraints, the department can provide transport for only  62,070 of the qualifying 117,000 learners that require transport in the province,” she said.  

In order to address this perennial challenge of transport in the province, the committee has urged the provincial department to engage National Treasury. “Permanent solutions must be found for this problem, especially considering that 70% of schools in KZN are in rural areas and they consist of learners largely who come from poor family backgrounds,” Mbinqo-Gigaba said.

The committee also discovered that there were over 1,109 teacher vacancies that existed at various levels within the system and they were concerned that there were only 12 days left before the reopening of schools.

The provincial education department was also urged to place the 1,845 pupils who are still waiting to be placed at schools.

When it comes to the provision of  Personal Protective Equipment  to schools, the department assured the committee that the  material would be delivered by Friday  to schools.

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