The IFP in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature is concerned about the failure of the KZN Department of Education to provide scholar transport to learners in uMkhanyakude District. There are currently 143 schools without scholar transport.
This is according to a response by the former KZN MEC for Education, Kwazi Mshengu, to a Parliamentary Question submitted by the IFP’s KZN Provincial Spokesperson for Education, Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa. She asked how many schools in uMkhanyakude District are without scholar transport. The former MEC for Education, stated that 143 schools are without scholar transport and that these schools had been applying for learner transport since its inception in 2012.
Further, the former MEC stated that there are also many schools in Harry Gwala District that lack scholar transport. These include:
- Ndela High School
- Ukuthula High School
- Ntabane High School
- Nonkwenkwane High School
- Mpofini Primary School
- Dingizwe High School
- Magidigidi Primary School
- Lusiba Primary School
- Mavangane High School
- Nongengane Primary School
- Sonyongwana High School
- Intakama Primary School
- Lufafa Primary School
- Esiqandulweni Primary School
- Phumobala Primary School
- Mazongo Primary School
The KZN Department of Education cites budgetary constraints as the reason for failing to provide learner transport in uMkhanyakude and Harry Gwala District. It further stated that these schools will not benefit from scholar transport in this current financial year.
While the allocation of R459.143 million for the 2022/23 financial year towards scholar transport by the Department of Transport is welcomed, as well as the increase in the number of schools that will benefit, from 363 to 397, we are concerned about schools in uMkhanyakude and Harry Gwala Districts.
Scholar transport is a necessary and integral part of the right to basic education, and learners who cannot get transport suffer – particularly those in rural South Africa. It is inexcusable that since 2012, schools in uMkhanyakude have been applying for scholar transport, without success.
Surely, the KZN Department of Education cannot blame lack of funds since 2012? What it has done to address the issue over the past ten years? Why has the Department not engaged with National Treasury?
Many learners arrive at school exhausted after their long walk, and then struggle to concentrate or stay awake in class. A lack of scholar transport contributes to late-coming, absenteeism, and learners dropping out of school. Learners often must contend with dangerous terrain and inclement weather. In some cases, learners walk more than 20km per day – a serious threat to their rights to access to education, health, safety, and dignity.
The right to education is an integral part of all South Africans’ constitutional rights, which cannot be realised without adequate scholar transport.
We call upon the new KZN MEC for Education, Mbali Frazer, to provide clear timeframes regarding when these schools will be provided with scholar transport, and how she intends to address her Department’s budget constraints.
Permanent solutions must be found, especially considering that many schools in KZN are in rural areas and most learners come from impoverished families.
The IFP will pursue this matter by requesting an urgent Debate on the lack of scholar transport in KwaZulu-Natal.
MEC’s response to the IFP’s Parliamentary Questions
Mrs Thembeni Madlopha-mthethwa MPL
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson on Education
071 884 3844 / 079 114 3015