EC’s school transport crisis

Almost 40000 pupils who qualify for the scholar transport programme in the Eastern Cape might have to walk long distances to and from school next year if administrative bungles by school principals are not sorted out.

LONG WALK: Thousands of Eastern Cape pupils may lose out on the scholar transport programme next year due to an administrative bungle by school principal Picture: SIBONGILE NGALWA

The department of education said the details of 39000 pupils who needed transport, which needed to be supplied to the department, were incorrect and incomplete.

As a result the pupils, most of who are from rural areas and walk up to 20km to and from school, are at risk of missing out on the government transport scholar programme.

There have been ongoing problems with the programme, with parents and pupils protesting about the running of it.

And now, even more pupils who qualify might miss out – causing more headaches for pupils, parents and government officials.

Provincial education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima told the Daily Dispatch yesterday that it was the duty of the school principals to supply the pupils’ information to the department.

Mtima said the provincial government would be unable to source additional funding from the national Treasury to transport the 39000 if pupils’ details were incorrect and incomplete.

“Treasury does not fund a learner whose information is incorrect.”

He said the principals of the schools the affected pupils are attending have since been informed about the problem and have one week to submit the correct information.

The information needed includes the pupils’ names, correct identity numbers, the route they travel, their pick-up and drop-off points and the school’s EMIS (Education Management Information System) number.

“Some of the learners’ ID numbers were incorrect, some did not have EMIS numbers and in other cases no route has been given.

“There is also an issue with those who have graduated from primary to high school – their details have not been updated,” said Mtima.

The department has urged principals to visit their nearest education district offices before next Wednesday to submit the necessary information.

A pupil verification process that was conducted by the department between October and November, to establish how many pupils still needed transport, found that there were 54000 pupils who qualified for scholar transport but were not benefiting from the taxpayer-funded programme.

Of that number, the information of only 15000 pupils was correct.

This year 110000 pupils qualified for the programme.

However, in her budget speech in March, transport MEC Weziwe Tikana stated at the time that the department could only ferry 77774 pupils with the R462-million budget she had been allocated. — arethal@dispatch.co.za

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