Ninety-one students in the Eastern Cape will now receive help with getting to school – after LRC lawyers filed papers in the Grahamstown High Court that compelled the South African Department of Education to comply with its constitutional obligation to provide students with transportation to four schools in the Eastern Cape, where learners were walking long distances to school, often in dangerous conditions. This is the latest of several student transportation cases brought by the LRC.
Thousands of Eastern Cape students walk 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) or more round-trip every school day. Acting on behalf of the Khula Community Development Project and four schools, the LRC resorted to litigation after the Department of Education repeatedly failed to take action on applications for student transportation. The LRC sought a two-part order, providing urgent relief to the students at the four schools and seeking systemic relief as well.
The Department of Education acknowledged its Constitutional obligations to provide transportation to qualifying students and agreed to provide transportation to the 91 students. The Department argued that it is improving the systemic administration of student transportation by using a digital database, the South African Schools Administration Management System, to log and process applications. However, many schools have encountered difficulties when using the new system and have noted that training has not been provided. The LRC will continue, therefore, to pursue its claim for systemic relief.
Petros Majola, the Director of the Khula Community Development Project, stated: “Subsidized scholar transport will make a big difference in the lives of these children, who can enjoy their right to education without their parents spending scarce funds to pay for private transport.”