A community project and a primary school have asked the court to compel Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to ensure that thousands of pupils in the province get transport to school.
Tityaba Primary School and the Khula Community Development Project in Peddie have turned to the Makhanda High Court on an urgent basis after trying for months to get transport for 31 pupils.
According to their attorney at the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), Mandira Subramony, MEC Mandla Makapula last year decided to close Dindala Primary School and Hoyi Primary School in Peddie.
The department undertook to transport the pupils from these two schools to the more distant Tyityaba PS but failed to do so. She said the 31 pupils met the criteria for scholar transport but the department had failed to respond to queries on why there was a delay.
She said parents of the pupils, who had to now privately fund their children’s transport to and from school, were battling financially.
“Most parents rely on the monthly child support grant of R330 to meet the needs of their children. Parents are forced to spend the majority of their available income on transport costs and this is not sustainable.”
One parent, Ntombebandla Nqinana, could not pay for a new school uniform and shoes and her child sometimes had to forsake breakfast so that she could afford the transport.
The 31 are just a few of the thousands who qualify for scholar transport but do not get it.
In its urgent application, the LRC is also seeking to compel the provincial education department to provide it with a list of all pupils whose applications for transport was refused.
“The (department) is in breach of the constitution for failing to communicate their decisions on applications for scholar transport to those learners effected.”
Finally, they are asking the court to urgently finalise its new scholar transport policy.
The department gave an assurance to the High Court last year that the policy would be finalised by September 2015. But this has not happened, said Subramony. “The absence of a finalised provincial scholar transport policy that sets out a clear framework for the effective management of the scholar transport system has resulted in a non-responsive and poorly administered scholar transport programme.”