Cathy Labuschagne MPP
DA Western Cape Spokesperson for Education, Western Cape Provincial Parliament
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spends more than R200 million on learner transport in the Western Cape which benefits more than 49 000 learners along 525 routes in the province. These welcomed statistics formed part of the WCED’s presentation to the Standing Committee on Education, in the Provincial Parliament today, 15 May 2012.
The national draft learner transport policy, currently under review, emphasises the joint responsibilities of the Department of Transport as well as the Department of Education on both a National and Provincial level. This policy not only stipulates the criteria and exceptions allowing for learner transport to be provided, but also provide the framework for stringent measures for implementation. One such anticipated result is a more coherent performance monitoring system.
As DA-spokesperson on Education in the Western Cape, I am pleased with the transversal focus on the best interest of the learner in the province. With regards to the Learner Transport Scheme (LTS), this manifests in the emphasis placed on safety throughout the system. The LTS Unit is responsible for performing roadworthy inspection on school buses at least every six months in liaison with the appropriate traffic authorities.
Furthermore, the dedication of the Department to address the challenges in the provision of learner transport should be lauded. Automating the system to exact learner verification helps to determine the actual number of learners using the service daily as opposed to the number of learners approved per contract. Other measures include the development of a Standard Operating Procedure manual in addition to existing policy, as well as the continuous reassessment of routes.
Responsible management of learner transport necessitates an appropriate and agreed upon service level agreement between the principal and the contractor. It is important that all parties involved realises the magnitude of this responsibility and honour said agreements. The system – with all its checks and balance, prescriptions and agreements – relies on the effective and appropriate reporting of all incidents in order to address any irregularities. I urge all principals to always ensure that the safety of our learners are guaranteed in transportation through effective and efficient monitoring every day.