Scholar transport evaluation to improve service for learners

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Department of Basic Education (DBE), together with the Department of Transport (DoT), has set June 2018 as the deadline to complete the evaluation of how the National Scholar Transport Programme is being implemented.

“The evaluation service provider has been appointed, the steering committee has been constituted, data collection and interviews with different stakeholders is in progress and the project is expected to be completed in June 2018,” said the two departments in a joint statement.

The departments announced this deadline when they briefed Parliament’s Standing Committee on Appropriations (SCOA) on progress made in the provision of learner transport on Wednesday.

SCOA looks at value for money in terms of the implementation of the budget allocation for learner transport.

The departments told the committee that the evaluation of the programme will assist in determining the efficiency and funding model for learner transport.

In June 2015, the learner transport policy was approved following a realisation that there was a gap relating to the provision of scholar transport.

Some of the challenges reported to the committee was insufficient funding for the provision of learner transport.

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.

“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,” said the departments.

According to the General Household Survey, a lack of transport is not commonly reported as the reason for learners, of school going age, not attending school. However, 69% of learners still walk to school, but nationally only 11% of these walk longer than 30 minutes to school. 

“Walking long distances to school is most prevalent in KwaZulu-Natal. 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,” said the departments.

According to the two department, the evaluation will also address other challenges 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.

Department responsible for scholar transport 

Another major challenge faced by the two departments is that the function to deliver scholar transport resides in multiple departments.

The evaluation service provider will therefore be tasked with determining which department should oversee this role.

“The evaluation would make a recommendation on the proposed department that would be responsible for the function,” said the two departments. –

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