Learners in rural areas in the Eastern Cape still struggling to get to school without scholar transport
For Immediate Release: Thursday 24 January 2019
On 16 January 2019, the LRC filed papers in the Makhanda High Court in an effort to compel the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDOE) to comply with its constitutional obligations to provide scholar transport to 163 named learners at four schools near Peddie in the Eastern Cape. The LRC is also seeking systemic relief on behalf of the Khula Community Development Project to clear up the confusion that exists in the administration of scholar transport in the province.
In violation of their constitutional right to education, learners in the Eastern Cape continue to struggle to get to school because the government has persistently failed to provide them with scholar transport. Over 20 000 learners, including children as young as 6 years old, must either walk a round-trip of 10km or more every school-day, (often using routes that are unsafe), or their families must spend large portions of their disposable income on paying for transport that is unregulated and often unsafe. As a result, many learners drop out of school or are frequently absent.
Cases brought by the LRC in 2015 and 2016 successfully challenged the Department’s decisions to deny scholar transport to a number of learners in the province. They firmly established that scholar transport was a key component of realizing the constitutional right to education. However, the Department has taken no further steps to resolve the systemic administrative crisis which has left thousands of learners in the province without scholar transport.
The process by which schools and parents are required to apply for scholar transport remains marred with chaos and confusion. Schools and parents are unsure how and when to apply; it is often unclear whether the Department has received the applications that have been submitted; and there are lengthy delays between the submission of applications to the Department and the communication of a decision on the application to the schools (if a decision is made or communicated at all). A number of primary and secondary schools in the Eastern Cape including Tyityaba Primary School, July Secondary School, Nathaniel Pamla Secondary School and Sakhingomso Primary School (the “four schools”), have applied for transport for their learners for several years, but not all qualifying learners are getting transport.
According to Ntombebandla Nqinana, a parent of one of the affected learners, “parents often have to sacrifice on necessities such as food and clothes in order to afford scholar transport.”
Another parent, Lulama Swapi, adds: “My children have no choice but to walk distances of approximately 30 km to and from their respective schools, which is unsafe…”
The constitutional obligations of the Department have been clear for a long time. Failure to comply undermines our children’s fundamental constitutional right to education and jeopardizes their future.
NOTE: For more information please contact:
- Cameron McConnachie (LRC attorney): 083 387 8738
The LRC is an independent, non-profit, public interest law clinic, which uses law as an instrument of justice to provide legal services for the vulnerable.