Poor pupils deprived of school transport due to budgetary constraints

60,000 learners provided with transport, but demand is over 100,000 – KZN education MEC

Suthentira Govender Senior reporter
The scene of the Pongola crash which claimed the lives of 18 children on Friday.
The scene of the Pongola crash which claimed the lives of 18 children on Friday.
Image: Twitter: TrafficSA

Budgetary constraints are preventing the KwaZulu-Natal education department from providing deserving pupils with state-funded transport to and from school.

This is the word from department head Nkosinathi Ngcobo, who spoke about pupil transport during a visit to the Pongola crash site where 18 children and two adults were killed in a collision between a bakkie and a truck on Friday.

“The one thing we need to clarify is the incident is not linked to pupil transport provided by the department,” he said.

Ngcobo said 60,000 pupils were provided with transport, but the demand was more than 100,000. He said large numbers of children qualified for transport because of the vastness and topography of the province, but budgetary constraints were hampering them from receiving the service.

“There are pupils who deserve and should be getting transport, but they are not getting it because of budgetary constraints.

“The policy is that a pupil must not travel more than 5km to school. It shouldn’t be a journey of more than 10km both ways.

“We are trying to add buses to transport pupils, but we can only do so much with the budget allocated.

“Some pupils use privately arranged transport, particularly if they are going to schools of choice.

“The Pongola incident is one example of private transport arranged between the owner of the vehicle and parents. Most were going to schools of choice rather than schools of need.

“It is always painful for us as a department. It doesn’t matter whether they were using privately arranged or pupil transport. All lives are precious and important to us.”

– TimesLIVE

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