Failure to provide scholar transport violates right to education, SAHRC
03 September 2014
ATTENTION: Editors and Reporters
The South African Human Rights Commission (Commission) has completed an investigation into the problems with the scholar transport in the Eastern Cape and found that the Eastern Cape Education and Transport Departments violated the learner’s right to basic education by failing to provide them with transport to school.
The Departments have been ordered to provide urgent time-bound remedies to deal with this problem.
The Commission received a complaint in May 2013 from former Democratic Alliance Parliamentarian Ms Lindiwe Mazibuko alleging that learners from Zweledinga Senior Secondary School in Queenstown had to walk long distances to school in order to access education. These learners were provided with scholar transport in the previous year, and the scholar transport was suspended without notice given to the school.
Owing to recognizing the systemic challenge of lack of transport of learners to schools in the province, the Commission elected to investigate more schools in the province and visited schools such as Lovemore Park farm Primary School in Port Elizabeth, and Ntabankulu, Dalibaso, Luthubeli and Upper Mpako secondary schools in Mqanduli area to gather more evidence relating to the scholar transport problems.
The investigation revealed that the availability of transport to learners at these schools was not adequate and in some instances, non-existent.
The Commission found that the failure by the Department of Education and the Department of Transport to provide transport violated learners' right to education as enshrined in Section 29 of the Constitution.
In addition, the departments’ failure to provide subsidized transport amounts to an infringement of its duty to consider the best interest of the learner as per section 28 of the Constitution.
As a result, the Commission recommended that these Departments should review their memorandum of agreement regarding the provision of scholar transport to ensure that it's consistent and does not prevent learners from going to school, thus violating their right to education.
Departments must provide the commission with monthly written reports on the progress made towards the delivery of transport to the learners of the schools as listed above. The reports should include:
- Location of the affected learners, per district
- Number of learners requiring transportation per school as at date of the first report and the extent to which figure fluctuates throughout the reporting period;
- Number of learners that have been provided with transport since the last report and the extent to which this figure fluctuates throughout the reporting period; and
- Time bound plans, including immediate and temporary plans, to address the affected transportation challenges of the affected children
Furthermore, the principals of the six schools are directed to take proactive steps in establishing from learners who are registered at their respective schools whether the basis of their nonattendance is due to the lack of transportation and provide the Commission with reports on a consecutive 30th day of the month of each school term.
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Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission