In an effort to provide access to education and eradicate illiteracy, the Department of Education has taken it upon itself to ensure that there is provision of subsidised dedicated learner transport in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
We have conducted an audit in all our schools to identify learners that are forced to cross rivers or dams when attending schools. The audit revealed that 181 schools in the Province have got learners that are crossing rivers or dams when going to schools.
It is important to note that a total of amount of R194 million has been set aside in the current financial to provide road transport to 47 747 learners in KwaZulu-Natal. A total of eight (8) ferry boats have been procured of which four (4) have already been delivered and distributed to Nkovukeni, Nkonjane, and Hlengiwe Schools in Umkhanyakude District.
The ferry boat programme currently caters for 415 learners in the province. We are making every effort possible to ensure that this mode of transport is made available to all deserving schools. An additional R10 million has be taken away from the Office of the MEC for Education to fund the purchase of additional ferry boats in the 2017/18 financial year.
The ferry boat programme was launched on the 20th of April 2017 in Nkovukeni River, Umhlabuyalingana, under uMkhanyakude District by the MEC for Education Mthandeni Dlungwana.
Umkhanyakude District remains one of our priorities given the fact that it is mostly rural and does not have adequate development infrastructure.
Another ferry boat has been allocated to three (3) more schools in the area of Madonela, Umkhanyakude District. The affected schools are:
· Mjindi High school
· Mamfene Primary school
· Madonela Primary School
Our departmental authorities have already visited the community representatives of Madonela which include the local traditional chief, school governing body, and local councillor, and municipal officials.
The Department of Education will continue to rollout this project to other districts that have similar challenges. This is a success story that will go long way in broadening access to quality education.
In the meantime, ground transport is being provided for learners to travel to and from the affected schools in the area of Madonela.