Durban - Learners attending rural schools will no longer have to walk great distances to get to school, thanks to a R87 million boost to school transport.
Addressing the media on Monday the provincial MEC for Education Ina Cronje said the department has allocated the funds to provide transport to all rural learners who walk up to 6km to schools.
"Going to school is usually an exciting and fun experience for young inquisitive minds. But for many learners in rural areas their journey to school is long and exhausting as they have to walk up to 6km," the MEC said.
She said this resulted in poor attendance and performance by learners in deep rural and far areas, adding that the transport system would help to change the situation.
According to the department 10 out of 12 districts were allocated six buses each. The MEC said the mode of transport operating in the route where the targeted schools are situated will determine the preferred mode of transport for learners.
She said that one bus is equivalent to four kombis or three quantum taxis, adding that one bus can transport a load of 80 learners per trip.
Of the money allocated, some would be used for Special Needs Education Services and the remainder on learner transport.
"R21.75 million of R87 million will be allocated to Special Needs Education Services and the balance of R65.25 million remains with the learner transport," said MEC Cronje.
Muzi Khumalo the Learner Transport Project Manager said that through the learner transport programme he hoped that the incidents of rape will decrease since learners will be picked and dropped off at safe points.
"We hope the incidents of where the learners became the victims of rape because of walking the long distance in unsafe places will decrease. We will be building the shelters where the learners can wait for transport," said Mr Khumalo.
The identification of learner transport beneficiaries is done at school level following protocol for onwards submission to Head Office. District quotas will be increased in the 2009/10 financial year.
Ms Cronje also revealed that they are working together with the Department of Transport to explore various economically sound approaches to learner transport to include other options.
"We are committed to improve access and learner attendance in schools through provision of transport. Good school attendance ultimately contributes to good scholastic results," said MEC Cronje.