A victory for pupils

2017-11-08 13:45
Pupils from 12 schools in Nquthu, near Dundee, protested outside the Pietermaritzburg high court on Tuesday against having to walk long distances under dangerous circumstances.

Pupils from 12 schools in Nquthu, near Dundee, protested outside the Pietermaritzburg high court on Tuesday against having to walk long distances under dangerous circumstances. (Chelsea Pieterse)

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Rural children march to the DBE to demand scholar transport

2017-10-07 11:51

Equal Education held a protest outside the Ministry of Basic Education in Pretoria on Friday, to demand the implementation of the 2015 National Scholar Transport Policy. Watch. WATCH

Cries of joy echoed through the Pietermaritzburg high court on Tuesday after it was ruled that pupils from 12 schools in Nquthu will have access to scholar transport by April next year.

This followed an out-of-court agreement between the non-governmental organisation Equal Education (EE) and the KwaZulu-Natal departments of Education and Transport.

EE had brought an application to the high court in a bid to end pupils’ long and dangerous walks to and from schools in Nquthu (near Dundee).

It said that the failure by the KwaZulu-Natal departments of Education and Transport to provide transport for the 12 Nquthu schools, violates “the constitutionally protected right to a basic education”.

EE spokesperson Mila Kakaza had said it and the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) had been working on the issue for more than two years.

She said pupils in Nquthu and other schools in the country were forced to walk “extremely long distances” and were “vulnerable to extreme weather and violent crime”.

Pupils from 12 Nquthu schools protested outside the high court on Tuesday while waiting for the ruling.

Standing barefoot with their shoes tied around their necks, the pupils braved the chilly weather to raise awareness of their plight.

Huddled together, they sang and danced while holding brightly painted signs calling for transport.

One message read: “I was raped on my walk to school. #MeToo”. Another said: “We are exposed to violent crimes”.

EE requested in their application that the departments of Transport and Education “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 when”. After the agreement, the court ruled in an “order by consent” that the Education Department would take steps to provide transport to the 12 schools by April 1 next year.

It was also ordered that the departments provide a report to the court on April 1, 2018 on the status of the KZN scholar transport policy.

The report must include plans the two departments will make to address the issue in the province as a whole, and the criteria used to determine the provision of scholar transport.

The departments were ordered to pay the costs of EE’s application to date.

The pupils, EE members, their attorneys and community members shed tears of joy and shared long embraces inside the court room.

EE spokesperson Kakaza said the ruling was “a victory”.

“It means freedom from the burden of walking long, exhausting and dangerous routes to and from school every morning and afternoon.”

KZN Education Department spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said yesterday that it notes the judgment and “will study the verdict further”.

“We still remain committed to providing subsidiary and reliable transportation to deserving learners in our province.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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