Learner Transport: Departments of Basic Education & Transport & Equal Education; with Deputy Minister

Standing Committee on Appropriations

07 March 2018
Chairperson: Ms Y Phosa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Departments of Transport and Basic Education gave a briefing on the implementation challenges of learner transport. The national learner transport policy had been approved by Cabinet in 2015 and was currently in the implementation mode. The establishment of the policy was in response to the realisation of a policy gap concerning the provision of transport services. The objective of the policy was to deal with the management and operational matters involved in learner transport. Some of the key elements included the institutional framework for the implementation of learner transport, learner transport safety and security, the procurement of learner transport services, funding, law enforcement and monitoring and evaluation.

The main challenge was the problem of the location of the function. The function was presently located in both the Departments of Transport and Basic Education. There was no clear policy direction on which department should be solely responsible for the programme. As a result, it was difficult to ensure proper coordination between the two departments. The other key challenges highlighted included insufficient funding, road safety and the lack of uniformity in contracting and remuneration.

The Committee Members were interested in knowing about the progress made regarding the establishment of a conditional grant to fund learner transport. They were concerned about the lack of progress in solving challenges that the policy was designed to overcome. These issues included the provision of transport to learners with a disability, ensuring the safety of learners and inefficient funding for the programme in many provinces.

The Deputy Minister of Education gave a commitment that during the next meeting of the Council of Education, the topic of scholar transport would be on the agenda.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson reminded Members that the meeting was a follow-up to a meeting in March last year which had resulted in the Committee making recommendations to the National Treasury on the Division of Revenue bill. The recommendations had focused on areas of improvement in the provision of learner transport, in compliance with children’s constitutional right to education and the disabled’s constitutional rights to access to quality education provisions.

She then gave an overview of the feedback from the Minister of Finance. The Minister had met with the Basic Education and Transport Departments, a meeting which had ended in an agreement on a turnaround strategy which was in line with the national learner transport policy. The Minister’s feedback had also stated that provinces were expected to have their own provincial learner transport policy. The engagement on the review of funding was still at a discussion level, but the Minister of Finance had advised that at the national level, there should be a provincial funding benchmark to enable National Treasury to standardise where necessary.

She introduced the meeting as a briefing from the Basic Education and Transport Departments on the success made in the implementation of the national learner transport policy. The Committee’s grave concerns had included unprioritised and uncoordinated learner transport services, learner transport for learners with a disability, use of old and unroadworthy vehicles (resulting in late attendance at classes, absentees, and school dropouts), death cases, and the failure to implement the national road safety strategy. The core business of the Standing Committee on Appropriations was to follow the appropriated budget for this programme and how the budget impacted on the lives of the students. The Committee's main interest was in allocations, expenditure and performance against the budget.

An apology was received from the Minister of Basic Education, who was out of the country, but the Chairperson announced that the Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Enver Surty, would be able to join the meeting later.

Learner transport: implementation challenges

Mr Elmon Maake, Director: Department of Transport (DoT), and Mr Ramasedi Mafoko, Chief Director: Department of Basic Education (DBE), presented on the implementation challenges of learner transport in South Africa.

The national learner transport policy was approved in 2015, and was currently in the mode of implementation. The policy was developed with the understanding that there were other regulations and legislation that governed the implementation of learner transport in South Africa. These included the National Land Transport Act, which regulates the provision of public transport in South Africa, and the National Road Traffic Act, which regulates the fitness of vehicles and drivers. The policy seeks to deal with issues around management and operational matters involving learner transport. The policy was a response to the realisation of a policy gap relating to the provision of service. The challenges experienced included no services at all, unsafe and insecure methods that were used, uncoordinated services, unscrupulous operations and non-standardisation of operations across the country.

The institutional framework for the implementation of learner transport was an element of the policy which stipulated the need for proper coordination between the DoT and DBE, both at the national and provincial level. Currently, the function was split between the two departments, and there was no clear policy direction as to which department was responsible for learner transport. Coordination was, therefore, an important aspect regarding proper planning and delivery of services.

For learner transport planning, the policy demanded a proper determination of needs. The planning of learners’ transport services should consider the safety and security of learners, infrastructure, and pick up and drop off points. The planning of learner transport should also be consistent concerning the integrated transports plans of the municipalities, such as issues around road conditions, etc.

Regarding learner transport safety and security, the policy stipulates that all vehicles used for learner transport must meet certain requirements of the National Land Transport Act. Vehicles used for public transport must, therefore, adhere to the regulations of the this Act.

The criteria for learner transport beneficiaries gives priority to learners with disability and learners who attend primary schools. The issue of kilometers was a grey area in the policy. The policy specifies 5km, but gives a criterion for deviation, depending on the geography of the area. Operational guidelines were provided to augment what was in the policy. These guidelines were designed to help provinces in the implementation of the policy.

Under service design for learner transport, the policy ensures that departments, in conjunction with other relevant stakeholders, design well-a defined learner transport service. This includes road infrastructure, proper drop-off points and stop signage, to ensure the safety of the learner transport service.

The procurement of learner transport services had to adhere to procurement regulations. Furthermore, only authorised operators with a valid operating licence may participate in learner transport. Learner transport duration should be in line with the requirements of the National Land Transport Act, which provides that contracts for minibus taxes should be valid for seven years, whereas contracts for bigger buses should be valid for 12 years.

The policy recommends the implementation of a standardised form of remuneration for learner transport operators, based on the number of kilometers traveled. However, area-specific conditions should be considered, especially in rural areas, where learners must travel on gravel roads and the distances were longer.

The policy provides that the project should be funded through the fiscus. There were differences in the amount of funding received by provinces. While some provinces were fully funded, others were not fully funded. According to studies from the provinces, rural provinces like KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Eastern Cape were the ones lagging regarding funding.

Modal integration was another key element of the policy, which specified the use of alternative modes of transport such as walking and cycling, where the distances were appropriate.

The policy required vehicles transporting learners to adhere to principles of universal design, especially for learners with disabilities.

At the current stage, it seemed like learners' transport was more of an implementation issue than it was a policy issue. There was enough policy and legislation. Regarding policy, the National Road Traffic Act regulates the vehicles, and the National Land Transport Act regulates who was qualified to operate learners’ transport. The programme seeks to address implementation issues, such as whether learners who need scholar transport were getting scholar transport, whether the vehicles used were safe, and whether there was law enforcement.

The challenge was that, at the national level, it was difficult to determine the reliability of information, provided by the provinces on the implementation progress. Therefore, the issue of institutional arrangements becomes important. There was a need to understand the roles and responsibilities of the departments and the provinces. The Departments of Transport and Basic Education played their roles at the national level in ensuring that they met with provinces on a quarterly basis to discuss the implementation of the programme. This was done with the submission of reports and information from provinces. There was a need for proper coordination to ensure that provinces provide reliable information, as the role of the Departments depended on it.

Regarding policy implementation progress, actions completed include:

  • The finalisation of norms/standards and operational guidelines for learner transport;
  • The development of a standardised model to guide contracting authorities;
  • Instituting the National Inter-Departmental Committee (NIDC) and facilitating the provincial interdepartmental committees.

Ongoing actions are:

  • The assessment of costing and funding for policy implementation;
  •  Developing and implementing a targeted National Learner Transport Road safety programme;
  •  Monitoring of the implementation of learner transport programmes.

The number of learners transported increased from 363 529 in the 2014-15 financial year, to 465 977 in the 2016-17 financial year. In the current financial year, the number of learners identified was 574 058, and 469 941 of those were targeted to be transported. The number of learners being transported was greater than the number targeted. However, there was a 13% gap in the percentage of learners being transported, against the need. The province with the biggest challenge seemed to be KZN, which was transporting only 53% of the learners that were supposed to be transported. Other provinces facing a similar challenge were the Eastern Cape and Free State. Other provinces were facing these challenges. For example, the North-Western Cape was transporting 3% more than the number learners identified at the beginning of the year. While there had been an increase in the number of learners transported from 2014 to the current financial year, there were still some learners not being transported.

Many challenges had been encountered in the implementation of the policy. Firstly, there was insufficient funding for learner transport. Learner transport was funded from the provincial equitable share. The tendency was that provinces did not fund sufficiently. Even though some provinces had provided some additional funding, it was still not sufficient to transport all the learners that needed to be transported. Secondly, the location of the function had been a challenge. As mentioned earlier, the function was shared between the DoT and the DBE. While there had been an attempt through the policy to bring uniformity concerning implementation, it was not always the case in practice. Other key challenges faced included road safety, the rationalisation of schools, the lack uniformity in contracting and remuneration, and inefficiencies in the provision of the programme.

Regarding budgets and expenditure, in the 2015-16 financial year, a total of R2.3 billion was allocated to learner transport in the provinces. This amount increased to R2.6 billion in the 2016-17 financial year. Data on expenditure in these two financial years showed that there was a significant increase in expenditure from one financial year to the next. In the budget of the current financial year, there was an excess of R3 billion allocated to learner transport. At the end of the third quarter, expenditure was at 78%. KZN had already over-spent its budget by the end of the third quarter. From the DBE side, the Minister had met with the leadership from KZN to discuss the matter and to ensure that learners were transported, and operators were being paid.

Discussion

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) expressed her concern over the lack of uniformity in the allocation of funds to scholar transport by provinces. From the equitable share allocated to provinces, provinces had different formulas for allocating funds to scholar transport. This lack of uniformity resulted in some provinces allocating insufficient funds for the programme. She asked if there was a way of coming up with a formula that ensured uniformity across all provinces.

She was also concerned about the increase in the number of road accidents. In the past 11 months, there had been an increase in injuries due to both traffic and accidents, and about 39 learners had died. It seemed like the safety of learners was lagging, despite the availability of policies and funding to ensure security for learners. She asked if steps had been put in place to avoid these safety issues.

She wondered why Free State had only 9 000 learners who were targeted to be transported, given that it was a predominantly rural province. She demanded an explanation on why the targeted learners for the Free State were fewer than other provinces.

She asked if there was a programme for bicycles. In the Free State, learners who travelled more than ten kilometers were provided with bicycles. Apparently, some of the bicycles had broken due to the terrain. The terrain itself did not allow for the use bicycles, because it was gravel. She asked for an explanation of who was qualified to get a bicycle, and if there was a programme for bicycles.

Ms S Boshoff (DA) said that learners in rural areas were exposed to unfavorable weather conditions while waiting for buses to pick them up. Was anything being done to provide these learners with shelters? The lack of progress in providing transport for learners with a disability was another one of her concerns. Schools made use of money from sponsorships to buy mini-buses, or made use of private transport for their learners. This was not of benefit to the schools, because 50% of their money was spent on transporting the learners. She was looking forward to the Deputy Minister's assurance that in future, learners with a disability would have a report separate from able-bodied learners.

She asked how far the discussions were going about having a conditional grant, rather than funding from the equitable share,. Last year, the Director General (DG) had spoken about having a conditional grant as a fixed grant, which would confine the provinces to use these funds as intended due to the attached conditions. She asked if anything had been done about that.

Referring to equal education, she said the DG had indicated he would rather engage with Equal Education (EE) than speak on the figures contained in their report. She asked if this meeting had taken place and what the outcome of the meeting had been. 

Ms D Sonokoanyane (ANC) asked why there was a lack of uniformity concerning departments responsible for the learners' transport across provinces. In some provinces, the DoT was responsible while in other provinces, the DBE was responsible. Why did the policy not specify a particular department that should be responsible for the programme?

She expressed her concern over the low budget allocated to KZN. KZN was a highly rural area where learners had to walk very long distances to school. Was the low budget the reason why there was inadequate transport for learners in KZN? The issue of learner transport had been there for a very long time now. She asked if the problem was ever going to be solved.

Mr M Paulsen (EFF) was concerned on the use private transport to transport learners. Private drivers wanted to make a profit and were not concerned about the safety of the learners. It was not the function of private drivers to transport learners. He called on the DBE to play a more active role in ensuring the safety of learners being transported.

He asked if insourcing could be a better way of solving the problem of learner transport. The transportation of learners was very costly, and it should not be left to schools to provide buses for scholar transport. He suggested that the DBE should insource the funding of transportation.

Ms M Manana was concerned about the policy in general. Given that the policy was designed by the DoT and DBE, some challenges should have to be ironed out while formulating the policy. As the originators of the policy, the departments should have decided who should be responsible for the policy programme to avoid the coordination problem associated with the location of the function. The policy needed to be worked out so that there was a clear direction. It seemed as though the issue of the challenges in scholar transport would not be resolved as soon as possible, although there was this policy which was supposed to guide everyone.

The Chairperson welcomed the Deputy Minister, Mr Enver Surty, and commended him for always attending the meetings whenever the Department was invited.

She expressed her disappointment at the lack of seriousness reflected in the recommendation made in the presentation. When making the recommendation, the departments should have taken time to seriously reflect on the work done before and how to bring it to new heights. She advised the Department to improve and act professionally next time.

Commenting on the evaluation of scholar transport, she said the Department had brought back the recommendation that was given by the Committee last year in March. The departments had not shown what they had done. This showed that the departments were not serious and that the Committee was not being taken seriously. When the Committee made a recommendation, departments were expected to embark on critical thinking and to present a progress report regarding the implementation at the next meeting. The departments could not give back the Committee’s recommendation.

She was also disappointed with the general statement that a service provider had been appointed. The departments should have presented the facts concerning the names, terms of reference and expectations. By generalising, the departments were telling the Committee what it wanted to hear and not what the departments had done. She advised the departments to be factual when writing their reports.

The Chairperson said that no improvements had taken place regarding the problem meant to be solved by the programme. She wondered what type of discussions had taken place in the interdepartmental committees. The departments were still experiencing the same old problems, despite meeting with the provinces on a quarterly basis. Funds were being spent, but there was no value for money. Even though money was being spent, there were still some scholars who were not being transported, and people in the rural areas continued to be disadvantaged, and yet the department had adopted rural development as one of its priorities.

DoT’s response

Mr Maake said there was a disparity in how money was allocated across the provinces. If the recommendation required the departments to establish a conditional grant for learner transport, then the mechanism to ensure that there was a uniform allocation of funds would be developed through this process.

During the departmental meetings, it was always asked whether 9 000 learners was a good representation of learners who needed to be transported in the Free State. The response from the province was that they used the 5km criteria to implement the scholar transport programme. The Department hoped the evaluation process would help to determine if 9 000 was the correct number of identified learners in the province.

There was a bicycle programme called the Shova Kalula bicycle programme that had been implemented, and was run by the DoT. Its objective was to augment what had currently been undertaken regarding transport. Scholar transport was provided only for learners traveling 5km and above, whereas the bicycle programme was for those that travelled between 3km and 5km. However, due to the high demand for scholar transport, some learners traveling more than 5km also used the bicycles. The Department would help the provinces and the schools to maintain the bicycles. This was because the households that received the bicycles were poor, and it was difficult for them to maintain them.

Mr Maake said work had been done for the establishment of a conditional grant. This included identifying the needs of the learners, establishing how much was needed for scholar transport and identifying the funding mechanisms that would be required to ensure that every learner was catered for. The deadline for the programme was June 2018. By June, the Department would have a report which would present the cost associated with the programme to ensure that every learner who needed transport was catered for, and the funding requirements and mechanisms for funding determined. The Department was working with the National Treasury to establish a way forward around the funding of learner transport.

Mr Maake said that the issue of the location of the function had been a problem for many years. It was not easy to leave the programme in the hands of just one the departments. In certain provinces, Education was doing better than Transport. Likewise, in other provinces, Transport was doing better than Education. The Department had tasked evaluators to look at different models of implementation across the provinces, and torecommend what needed to be done regarding the location of the function. The National Treasury said it could not help with the establishment of the conditional grant if the problems of the location of the function were not solved.

DBE’s response

 

Dr G Whittle, Deputy Director General: DBE, said that the key issue with learner transport was funding. The difficulty with funding in this instance was that it was in the provinces. Provinces made funding decisions on their own. Unfortunately, it was very difficult for the DBE to make suggestions to provinces. The position of the DBE was that the Department should possibly look at a conditional grant. Some of the issues could be addressed through a conditional grant to ensure that there was dedicated funding for this function.

The issue of the location of the function was an important one. According to advice from legal advisors, the function should technically be in Transport. However, if the DoT did not pay, transport service providers would go on strike two days before the day of the exams. In this case, Education paid so that learners could get to school and write exams. The choice of the function was left for the provinces to make. In KZN, up until last year, the function was with Transport, but it had now migrated to Education due to the difficulties associated with Transport. The issues, therefore, needed to be resolved directly with the provinces.

Safety was also a major issue. The 39 deaths mentioned by Ms Tarabella-Marchesi, had happened with private transport and not with the formal scholar transport provided by the departments. The issue was beyond the control of the DBE, because it was about road safety in general.

Dr Whittle said that in a situation where provinces could not transport the children, it was very difficult to provide shelters. The Department had been dealing with the issue over many years.

Mr Mafoko added comments about the provision of shelters from the DBE’s perspective. He said that from the allocation of the DBE, it was not meant to establish shelters. Therefore, a responsible department should be approached and be asked to provide the shelters. He assured the Committee that the DBE would contact the relevant departments and ask them to provide the shelters, because the learners were being disadvantaged in the absence of shelters.

Deputy Minister’s comments

Mr Surty assured the Chairperson that he had taken careful notes and would engage with the Department about all the contributions that had been made. He gave an overview of what the Chairperson expected from the two departments. She required comprehensive critical analytical thinking. She had identified the challenges, and the expectation was that the two departments should come to the Portfolio Committee to present the plans for the implementation, given the challenges identified. Her expectation lay at the heart of how the issue at hand should be dealt with.

The Deputy Minister said that the starting point must be the importance of data, which had been raised by the Chairperson. It was impossible to make an informed, scientific and empirical decision without having credible, reliable data. The Department had an accumulation of more than 11 million learners on their database which had been verified by Home Affairs. The Department could include the issue of transport in the dataset. This could be critical to making informed decisions about allocations. This could be one of the positive steps that the departments should take.

The issue of the location of the function was a decision that could be taken, based on the assessment and evaluation of one year. It would take three years to decide which department should be responsible for the programme. Already, the signs were quite clear that once it was moved to the DoT, challenges would be faced regarding evaluation and funding. This resulted in transport providers not being paid on time. Transport providers then responded by holding the schools and the Department of Education to account by refusing to transport the learners. He said that the decision on the best department to be assigned the responsibility for the programme would have to be a political decision. Provinces had a  constitutional right, so the Department could not impose that task on a province unless there was legislation that assigned the responsibility to one department for all provinces.

Mr Surty suggested that transport should also be considered a function of the school. It would make sense for schools with many learners to have buses, although it would not make economic sense for small schools.

He agreed the departments had a challenge, and that they had to work harder at it. What seemed to be emerging was that there should be clarity and certainty regarding the location of the function, the decision about the conditional grant, and the database for the transportation of learners.

He committed that at the next meeting of the Council of Education, scholar transport was one of the items that would be on the agenda. It would be discussed and a report would be provided to the Standing Committee of Appropriations.

The Chairperson raised some points for the Deputy Minister to consider during his next meetings. The five-kilometer radius that must be traveled to qualify for learner transport impacted negatively on rural children. She advised the Deputy Minister to consider changing it to two kilometers, and they should be provided with bicycles. She encouraged him to talk to the DoT to provide shelters for learners, because it was in the allocation for transport. She also reminded him about the need to come up with a plan for learners with disability.

Equal Education (EE):  Learner Transport presentation

Ms Sibabalwe Gcilitshana, Parliamentary Officer, and Ms Nicola Soekoe, Researcher: EE, presented on learner transport provision in KZN, and made a case for a conditional grant.

EE was a membership-based, democratic movement of learners, parents, teachers and community members. It worked to achieve quality and equality in South Africa education. To achieve its objectives, it conducted a broad range of activities, and where necessary it used the courts to litigate. The movement was driven primarily by its learner members in high schools across five provinces: the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and Gauteng.

Equalisers based in Nquthu, in northern KZN, had identified the lack of learner transport as a barrier to accessing quality education. The EE had been advocating for the provision of learner transport for learners who qualified.

In 2007, the KZN Department of Education had identified the need to deliver learner transport to small rural and farm schools. It had piloted the provision of learner transport for three districts and appointed a project manager to assist in preliminary data collection and to assess if the pilot was successful. The pilot had been a success.

In 2008, it allocated funds for the first time to provide learner transport. Despite the provision, two issues remained unresolved:

  • Formulating a policy -- they had no framework to work on.
  • Where the placement of learner transport would be.

Between 2009 and 2013, learner transport became a feature of the KZN DoE budget. During this time, the DoE maintained the primary provision of learner transport.

The DoT realised it had an obligation to assist with the provision of learner transport, because it was based on aligning national policies with provincial policies. The separation of duties was then drafted. DoE would handle the verification of learner numbers and planning, while the DoT would handle route planning and management of the operators.

In 2014, learner transport officially moved from the primary care of the DoE to the DoT. This was because the DoE felt that the provision of learner transport ought to be determined at the various districts, given the distances traveled. So the DoE maintained its function of identifying learners in need, while the DoT retained the function of providing the service, given the resources and the data received from the DoE.

By the end of the financial period of 2017, learner transport was reverted to the DoE.

Using DBE data, the departments had, for the last three years, planned to provide only 4% of the potentially qualifying learners with transport. Of the identified learners in need, 49% were transported in 2015, 67% in 2016 and 49% in 2017.

There were two major thrusts to the EE’s current advocacy around learner transport. These were around the conditional grant, and the provision of learner transport for a further 12 schools in the Nquthu area.

Recognizing provincial governments’ inability or unwillingness to devote sufficient funds to learner transport, EE had for long advocated for a conditional grant to be introduced to fund learner transport:

  • April 2016: presented a recommendation on the Division of Revenue Bill to the Standing Committee on Appropriations;
  • March 2016 and 2017: submissions to the Standing Committee on Appropriations on the Division of Revenue Bill;
  • March 2017: Protest at the KZN State of the Province Address (SOPA);
  • October 2017: Picket outside the DBE in Pretoria.

Despite the fact that three schools had have been provided with scholar transport, EE had continued to advocate for scholar transport at 12 other schools which qualified.

The national government had responded positively to the calls for a conditional grant by making public commitments. For example, in May 2017, the DG of the DBE had told the Portfolio Committee that if all went according to plan, a conditional grant would be introduced in the 2018/2019 financial year. It was encouraging that national government was starting to recognise the need for a conditional grant. The DBE saw a conditional grant as the National Treasury’s competency. However, National Treasury itself did not have the power to introduce a conditional grant. The national Departments of Education and Transport had to draft a proposal which should then be endorsed by Cabinet. According to the National Treasury, a conditional grant could be introduced within a year of the endorsement of the proposal by the Cabinet.

The provincial budget allocations for learner transport had increased in the past few years. The increase varied greatly from province to province. In some provinces, such as the Free State, the increase fell below inflation.

Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) usually cited inadequate funds as one of the main reasons they were not providing transport to all learners that qualified. They were expected to fund the provision of learner transport using their equitable share allocations. However, increasing their equitable share was not likely to solve the learner transport problems for the following reasons:

  • The equitable share was unconditional allocations from National Treasury, allowing provinces to use their own discretion in their allocations of the budget. The budget for learner transport was often the first to be cut when provinces faced budgetary pressures. A conditional grant would prevent the diversion of funds allocated to learner transport.
  • An increase in the equitable share would be allocated in the same manner as the rest of the equitable share by the equitable share formula, instead of being in proportion to each province's learner transport needs. A conditional grant would match financial allocation to need.
  • A conditional grant would allow for a level of oversight by National Treasury and other stakeholders which would not otherwise be possible. Most provinces did not have programmes for learner transport, so the budget amounts were not recorded separately. This made monitoring very difficult. A conditional grant would ensure that allocations and expenditures could easily be traced and monitored.

Ms Debbie Budlender’s research showed that a conditional grant was feasible. In her proposal, the key parameters were:

  • A simple formula based on provincial need. She did not consider factors such as distances traveled, different terrains of provinces and different modes of transport used. This was because data was not readily available.
  • She used the same cost per learner nationwide.
  • Her proposal excluded learners with special needs. This was because the transport for a learner with a special need was usually managed separately or even managed by a different department.

Ms Budlender proposed the following two models of what the conditional grant should look like:

  • All learner transport funding would be included in the conditional grant. To fund the grant, an amount equivalent to the total national expenditure on learner transport in the 2017/2018 financial year, adjusted for inflation, would be deducted from the equitable share.
  • Current funding for the learner transport in the equitable share would remain unchanged. Funding from the conditional grant would then be used only for learners who were not currently being provided with transport, despite qualifying for scholar transport.

Discussion

Mr N Gcwabaza (ANC) alerted the Chairperson that it would not be possible to exhaust all the discussion. There was another meeting that required the Members’ attendance.

Ms Senokoanyane apologized to the presenters for not having the time to comment on the presentation. She said that Members did need a break before the next meeting.

Ms Boshoff said that those who wanted to leave the meeting were welcome to leave, but she was prepared to stay until 2 pm.

The Chairperson suggested that Members should submit all the written questions Mr Arends, the Committee Secretary, who would forward them to the presenters so that they could respond in writing.

She asked the National Treasury to make a quick comment regarding expenditure on the proposal.

Mr S Jamari spoke about the conditional grant. The problem with the conditional grant in the current framework was that the function was in two departments, and a conditional grant could not be issued like that. This problem needed to be resolved first. The issue of accountability must rest with one department. There was also the need for reliable data. It would be very difficult to identify the needs when making conditional allocations if there was no reliable data. Currently, the data was all over the place, and there was a need to work on it.

The policy needed to specify certain needs and standards with regard to the beneficiaries of the learner transport.

He explained that the conditional grant would not provide extra money. The conditional grant was not a solution to the problem of too little money. The conditional grant just refenced the money. If the problem was that there was too little money, the conditional grant was not the solution. If there was too little money, additional funds had to be allocated to the function, and that was a different matter.

The meeting was adjourned.

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