Thousands of Eastern Cape learners to be stranded

Issued by Marshall von Buchenroder, MPL
Shadow MEC for Transport

Today it has been revealed that 37 247 Eastern Cape learners, who previously received assistance to get to school, will now be stranded at home with no transport whatsoever, because of budget cuts.

This was revealed during a school readiness presentation to the Eastern Cape Education Portfolio Committee.

Last year the Eastern Cape Department of Transport, which is responsible for scholar transport, was able to provide assistance to 124 247 learners, but this number has been drastically cut back to just 87 000 for the 2021 academic year.

This is simply unacceptable. Learners identified for scholar transport are those who have no other means of getting to school.

This ANC-led government has thrown our children to the wolves. They have failed these children.

A capable state would ensure that no child is deprived of their right to an education and would make the necessary financial provisions to cater to these needs.

The same Department that has claimed the reduction in numbers is due to budget cuts, underspent their budget by R94 million in 2019/20 financial year.

The same Department was able to blow an extra R17,2 million for travel and subsistence for officials, up nearly 25% year-on-year, from R69,4 million in 2018/19 to R86,6 million in 2019/20.

The same Department, pleading poverty, was able to spend R13,4 million on catering for its officials.

This ANC-led government is fine with officials sitting in their comfortable Bed and Breakfast in Cala, while the children of this province have to walk for hours, through rain or under a blazing hot sun, just to get an education.

This ANC-led government does not see a problem with five-star meals for their officials, while children starve, because they cannot get to the school that serves them the one meal a day that they can rely on through school nutrition programmes.

I will be writing to Premier Oscar Mabuyane and the MEC of Finance, Mlungisi Mvoko, to challenge them to find the additional funds needed to provide scholar transport to all learners who qualify.

Perhaps they can succeed where the Transport MEC, Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe has failed.