SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has expressed concern over the Department of Education’s announcement of a review of its ‘Home to School’ transport.
Mr Durkan said that any change to the financing of school transport would be a damning indictment of how government, or lack of, is failing school children in Northern Ireland.
The Department of Education has said the aim of the review is to ensure that home to school transport is “fit for purpose and is sustainable over the long term”.
Around 84,000 pupils are eligible for transport assistance, 26 per cent of the school population. The cost is approximately £81m per year. The review will not consider home to school transport for children with a statement of special educational needs which specifies a special transport need.
Mr Durkan said: “News that Home to School Transport may be under threat will be a major worry to many parents and guardians who will now have to factor in transport costs in their overall budgets.
“It is bad enough that parents must worry about the environment in which their children are educated in due to cutbacks and financial constraints but to add to this, the worry of whether or not they can afford to send their children to school will be devastating.
“The difficult decision by the Department to reconsider its financing of school transport due to financial difficulties, is a stark reminder that political parties need to get back to work to help mitigate the crisis facing our education budget.”
An online questionnaire has been launched on the Department’s website: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/X5KRQYT.
Public meetings will also be held across the north.