Equal Education (EE) has received reports that in June 2011 KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Senzo Mchunu issued a departmental circular instructing principals to lock out late-coming learners. EE has sent a letter to the MEC calling for the circular to be retracted immediately.
In May 2012 the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) wrote on behalf of EE to MEC Mchunu raising concerns over his approach to late coming in the province. He did not reply to the letter nor did he accept our invitation to meet to discuss solutions to the problem. The EELC has subsequently received reports that late-coming learners continue to be locked out as instructed by the circular. This has raised concerns over learner safety.
The EELC invites the public to report principals who lock out late-coming learners. Locking learners out of school effectively denies them their right to access basic education. Section 5(b) of the South African Schools Act states that any person who prevents a learner, who is subject to compulsory attendance, from attending school is guilty of an offence. Locking learners out of school is illegal, criminal and a clear violation of section 29 of the Constitution. MEC Mchunu has a positive obligation to ensure that all learners of school going age are attending school. Locking late learners out of school runs contrary to his mandate.
While late coming is an essential issue to address, it is important to remember that there are often a number of obstacles that learners face on their way to school. These obstacles can include having to travel long distances on transport that can be unreliable and expensive, having chores to do at home before school and having to take younger siblings to school in the morning. In many schools a good example is not set by teachers who also arrive late. Therefore, any solution to this problem needs to take these problems into consideration.
For more information please contact Yoliswa Dwane (EE Chairperson) on 072 342 7747 or Precillar Moyo (EE Law Centre Attorney) on 082 640 3002