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East London special needs learners affected by lack of transport

Jun 18, 2018
East London special needs learners affected by lack of transport

Learners at three special needs schools in East London are receiving less than three hours of actual learning a day because the drivers, who are supposed to get them to school have not been paid their overtime by the Department of Education since 2017, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Monday.

"I made this tragic discovery last week Wednesday during oversight inspection to special needs schools in the Buffalo City, following media reports of the lack of supervision at the Vukuhambe Special Needs School in Mdantsane.  

"The drivers of Parkland, Khayalethu and Vukuhambe Special Schools have been overlooked by the Department of Education in the Eastern Cape," described Edmund van Vuuren (MPL), DA Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Education.

"According to the principal and the chairperson of the School Governing body at Parkland, they have been fighting tirelessly with the department since 2013 regarding the non-payment of overtime."

He said that the drivers are supposed to start collecting children at 06:15 to have them at school at 08:00.

"Instead, since October 2017, collecting and transport only commences at 08:00, which results in learners only being ready for their lessons at 11:00, after they have been supplied with a meal.

"The school day concludes at 13:30 which means that learners have only two-and-a-half hours of education," van Vuuren said.

"Two of the three schools have complied with all requirements for 2016 and 2017, but the department has only responded with empty promises. A representative of the schools even went as far as to hand deliver all the necessary documents to the district office and sat with the official while the overtime logs were being captured. This was done in 2015 and 2017."

He added that the department has never given a template to correctly capture the overtime to the schools.

"It claims the template used by the schools, which was given to them by the Provincial Treasury, is incorrect."

Van Vuuren said that the department must arrive at a suitable arrangement, taking into account the special circumstances of the workers and how they are expected to carry out their duties.  

"I have interacted with the District Director in East London, Mr Edgar Klaasen, and with the chief director of Education Social Support Services, Ms Sharon Maasdorp. They have shown willingness to resolve the issue," he said.

"I have also submitted legislature questions to Education MEC Mandla Makupula requesting a clear plan of action to once and for all to rectify the five-year-long problem."