The basic education department briefed Parliament’s SCOA on progress made in the provision of learner transport and listed insufficient funding as one of the faced. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures

Johannesburg - The basic education department and the transport department on Wednesday, briefed Parliament’s Standing Committee on Appropriations (SCOA) on progress made in the provision of learner transport and listed insufficient funding as one of the challenges faced.

"While some provinces have been able to allocate additional funding for the service, there is a need to comprehensively evaluate the programme performance in terms of its efficiency and to determine funding requirements and mechanisms. It was reported to the Committee that the evaluation of the programme will assist in determining this," the department of basic education said in a statement.

The department said the development of the learner transport policy was a response to a realisation of a policy gap relating to the provision of the service, while challenges experienced in the implementation of the policy included no services at all, unsafe and insecure methods that were used, uncoordinated services, unscrupulous operations and non-standardised operations. The policy was approved in June 2015.

They said that the National Learner Transport Policy stated that learner transport planning and implementation required multi-sectoral coordination and approach where various government departments played significant roles. 

"Another major challenge is that the function resides in multiple departments. The provision of learner transport function is shared by Department of Transport and Education. Co-ordination and oversight of the function between two departments is a challenge. The evaluation would make a recommendation on the proposed department that would be responsible for the function."

The department said the evaluation proposed would address some of the other challenges identified, such as uniformity around contracting and remuneration, issues around the rationalisation of schools, and issues relating to distance and terrain that require learners to be provided transport.

"The purpose of this evaluation is to assess the implementation of the scholar transport programme, the efficacy of the funding model and whether learners are transported safely and on time. Additionally, this evaluation should show how funding and expenditure impacts on the programme. The evaluation will encompass the mandate and reach of the Scholar Transport Implementation Programme."

They added that the data would be reviewed from 2011/12 to 2016/17 financial years. 

The department said that according to the General Household survey a lack of transport was not commonly reported as the reason for learners, of school going age, not attending school. 

The survey found that pupils still walk to school but nationally only 11 percent walk longer than 30 minutes.

"Walking long distances to school is most prevalent in [the KwaZulu-Natal] KZN province. Both Departments are confident that the evaluation report of the programme will assist greatly in addressing some of the current hurdles in implementing the policy fully as well as the possible ring fencing of the budget for scholar transport."

African News Agency/ANA