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17 Sep 2012 16:00
KwaZulu-Natal education minister Senzo Mchunu. (Gallo)
"Mchunu's edict to immediately ban all school excursions in the province is a cry from a man desperate in the face of a department unwilling or unable to take responsible action at their level of authority," Democratic Alliance KwaZulu-Natal legislature MP Tom Stokes said on Monday.
On Sunday, while addressing the families of 10 school children who were killed in an accident in Bergville on Saturday night, Mchunu said all school trips in the province were banned for the rest of the year.
Provincial education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said in the past two months more than 30 pupils had been killed on the roads while on school trips.
"All schools wanting to go on any trip should apply to the head of department and the application will be reviewed under strict conditions," he said.
"The [provincial minister] cannot fold his arms, even if it means he takes drastic steps that will be challenged."
He said the department had banned all trips, including sporting events and matric dances.
Impractical and illegal
Stokes said instead of banning school trips, principals should submit a safety and excursions policy to the education department. This should determine which schools were competent to take pupils on trips.
Stokes said banning school excursions was not practical or legal, as there were many people who relied on the trips for their livelihood, including transport companies, school tour operators, and events centres.
"Perhaps more disruptive is the effect this ban will have on the thousands of sports fixtures and cultural events that take place every weekend across the province," said Stokes.
"For many schools these programmes form an integral part of their curriculum and would have incurred the cost already."
He said it was a principal's responsibility to ensure every vehicle used for transporting pupils was roadworthy and not overloaded.
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