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LRC: Department of Education in breach of Constitution over failure to provide scholar transport

Photo by Reuters

8th March 2016

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On 1 March 2016, the Legal Resources Centre, on behalf of the Khula Community Development Project and the School Governing Body of the Tyityaba Primary School based in the Eastern Cape, filed papers in the Grahamstown High Court in an effort to compel the Minister of Basic Education to provide scholar transport for thousands of learners across the Province.

In 2014, the MEC took a decision to close two small schools, Dindala Primary School and Hoyi Primary School. They undertook to transport the learners from these two schools to Tyityaba PS but have failed to do so. Thirty-one learners at Tyityaba Primary School, although meeting the criteria for scholar transport and promised that they would receive it in 2016, are still waiting for the provision of transport. Requests from the SGB for answers from the Department as to why there has been a delay have gone unanswered.

Parents are currently experiencing dire financial constraints due to the Department’s failure to provide scholar transport. Most parents rely on the monthly child support grant of R330,00 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. Some parents attest to hiding away when the vehicle came to collect their children as they did not have the funds necessary to pay for transport.

Mrs Ntombebandla Nqinana, a parent whose child attends Tyityaba Primary school states:
“I cannot afford to give my child breakfast every morning. I also can’t afford to buy new school uniforms and shoes. I have to rely on my mother’s old age grant in order to buy food and pay for household expenses.”

The thirty-one learners are not alone; thousands of learners have not been provided with scholar transport even though they qualify for it in terms of the provincial scholar transport policy.

The LRC is also seeking to compel the Acting Superintendent General of the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDOE) to provide Khula Development Project and the School Governing Body of the Tyityaba Primary School with a list of all learners in the Eastern Cape who have had their applications for scholar transport refused.

The ECDOE in breach of the Constitution for failing to communicate their decisions on applications for scholar transport to those learners effected.

We are also seeking for the MEC of Education in the Eastern Cape and Action Director General, in conjunction with the Department of Transport, to urgently finalise a new scholar transport policy.

The matter has become an urgent one and the LRC is seeking to have the matter heard on an urgent basis.

 

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