State ‘violates the rights’ of pupils who have to walk 12km to school

2014-09-03 16:36

The rights of some Eastern Cape pupils were violated when the provincial education and transport departments failed to provide them with transport, the South African Human Rights Commission has found.

“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,” spokesperson Isaac Mangena said today.

“In addition, the departments’ failure to provide subsidised transport amounts to an infringement of its duty to consider the best interest of the learner.”

The departments were ordered to deal with the problem.

The commission began its investigation following a complaint by former Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko that pupils at the Zweledinga Senior Secondary School in Queenstown had to walk nearly 12km to school.

“The commission elected to investigate more schools in the province and visited schools such as Lovemore Park Primary School in Port Elizabeth and Ntabankulu, Dalibaso, Luthubeli and Upper Mpako secondary schools in [the] Mqanduli area,” Mangena said.

“The investigation revealed that the availability of transport to learners at these schools was not adequate and in some instances, nonexistent.”

He said the departments needed to review their memorandum of agreement regarding the provision of scholar transport. They had to provide the commission with monthly reports on progress made in ensuring pupils had transport.

The principals of the six schools were ordered to establish from pupils if the reason for their nonattendance was due to a lack of transport and provide the commission with reports each month.

Provincial transport spokesperson Ncedo Kumbaca said scholar transport problems were budgetary and involved “constant engagement with the treasury”.

“In the new academic year we increased the number of beneficiaries [of scholar transport] by 10%,” he said.

Currently, 95 000 pupils qualified for transport but only 67 000 were receiving this service.

“We remain committed that in the near future we will cover all learners that qualify.”

He said pupils who qualified needed to inform the education department so that transport could be arranged.

The provincial education department could not immediately be reached for comment.

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