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* Published by City Press on 20 October 2019

Written by Ntombi Mngomezulu – Grade 11: Ngwane Secondary
Lungelo Khanyile – Grade 11: Nhlalakahle Secondary
Sthembile Ngcobo – Grade 9: Mathukulula Secondary
Sbonelo Moloi – Grade 10: Hlubi Secondary
Thabani Zwane – Grade 11: Nhlalakahle Secondary
Mpilwenhle Masondo – Grade 11: Mathukulula Secondary
Thabisile Sithole – Grade11: Nhlalakahle Secondary
Sifiso Mabaso – Grade 11: Bongumenzi High School
Palesa Ndlangamandla – Grade 12: Ndlelanhle Secondary
Nhlakanipho Ngobese – Grade11: Ngwane Secondary
Luyanda Koina – Grade 11: Ndlelanhle Secondary
Sandile Molefe – Grade 11: Zicole Secondary;
and Tebogo Tsesane – Equal Education Junior Organiser

Dear MEC Kwazi Mshengu

We are writing this letter because we are concerned about the lack of scholar transport in KwaZulu-Natal. It has come to our attention that the KwaZulu-Natal scholar transport policy that we have been requesting since 2015 after the adoption of the National Scholar Transport Policy, is yet to be finalised and implemented. We wish to voice our concerns related to the lack of urgency shown by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education (KZNDoE).

We are experiencing many obstacles on our way to school as a result of not having access to scholar transport. Many learners have been raped and assaulted because they have to walk long distances to school and some have even dropped out because of this issue. Our journeys include passing dangerous obstacles like dams, rivers and unsafe roads.

Equal Education (EE) has been advocating for scholar transport in Nqutu, Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) since 2014, when learners identified the urgent need for scholar transport in the province.

As a means of addressing this need we had actions outside the KZNDoE in 2015 to demand the provision of scholar transport in the province. Following these demonstrations Equal Education (EE) had managed to push for and secure the National Scholar Transport policy which led to three schools receiving buses in Nqutu, KZN, namely Esikhumbuzweni High
School, Nhlalakahle Secondary School and Mangeni High School.

Last year, we celebrated another victory when 12 schools in KZN received buses after four years of advocating for scholar transport. However, these buses were not enough for all learners in need of scholar transport within the province, which leads to them often being overcrowded. It is a fact beyond doubt that overcrowded vehicles are more likely to be involved in accidents. Another major problem is that disabled learners can not access that transport, even though the transport is supposed to cater to all learners.

We have decided to focus our advocacy on ensuring that all 370 000 learners in need of scholar transport in the province be afforded this opportunity, by centering our campaign around securing the KZN provincial scholar transport policy. The KZNDoE promised to adopt the policy by 31 December 2018 – 10 months later we are still waiting!

For this reason, EE represented by the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC), has decided to take you, MEC and the KZN Department of Transport (KZNDoT) to court.

We want the KZNDoE to release the provincial scholar transport policy this year. We also want the policy to show how the KZNDoE will plan for the future implementation of the policy. We demand sufficient and safe transport, with well-trained drivers. The policy must also show what alternative types of transport have been considered and should clearly outline the division of roles and responsibilities between the KZNDoE and KZNDoT.

As Equalisers we demand that the scholar transport policy is informed by the number of learners per school, so that transport can be distributed accordingly to avoid overcrowding. We also demand that the KZNDoE ensure that schools in need of transport get access. The KZNDoT should make providing scholar transport a priority so that the number of learners being raped and assaulted will decrease. We also wish that the transport being provided cater to the disabled.

It is a huge concern that instead of simply adopting the provincial scholar transport policy you have instead decided to waste funds on court processes – funds which could have been used to fund scholar transport within the province. It is not necessary that we go to court.

MEC, 370 000 learners in KwaZulu-Natal are depending on you to adopt the scholar transport policy so that their treacherous daily long walk to school can come to an end.

We would appreciate it if our concerns are taken into consideration. We need to end the long walk to school for all learners in KZN.

Yours in concern,

KwaZulu-Natal Equalisers (learner members of Equal Education)