Our partners at Equal Education (EE) are continuing the fight for government-subsidised scholar transport in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and across South Africa by initiating legal proceedings at Pietermaritzburg’s High Court.
For over two years, EE and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) have been working to secure access to scholar transport for 12 schools in Nquthu, KZN. The hard-fought victories achieved so far, such as the provision of government-subsidised buses to three schools in Nquthu in Northern KZN and the publication of the National Learner Transport Policy, can be attributed to action undertaken through EE’s #LongWalkToSchool campaign. Mobilisation and protest, engagement at the political and bureaucratic level of provincial government, and multiple submissions to Parliament have been key features of this campaign.
However, as the KZN Departments of Education and Transport maintain their reluctance to provide scholar transport to seven of the 12 schools identified by EE, learners continue to be forced to walk punishing distances to access education. A short documentary produced by EE depicts the story of one young student, Siphilele Thusini, one of the 2 million learners in this vulnerable position which exposes them to severe weather and violent crime, as well as arriving to school exhausted. It is the ongoing prevalence of these kinds of cases that has compelled Equal Education to litigate.
As emphasised by Canon Collins alumnus and EELC attorney, Solminic Joseph, "It's easy to see it on paper, but when you actually witness the distances and the terrain that [Siphilele] covers, one has to feel for these kids… it gives you a sense of urgency."
EE is requesting the Pietermaritzburg High Court do the following:
1. Declare that the failure to provide scholar transport for the learners of the 12 Nquthu schools identified by EE as in need, violates the constitutionally protected right to a basic education; and
2. Compel the officials from the KZN Departments of Transport and Education to reconsider their decisions to refuse scholar transport to the 12 schools, and to explain to the court what steps they plan to take to fix the situation, and by which date.
Further information about EE's vital work on behalf of South African schoolchildren can be found on page 14 of our Annual Review.