22 April 2021
Equal Education media statement: This morning Equal Education members are picketing at the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education (KZNDoE) in Pietermaritzburg to demand the release of the final KwaZulu-Natal Learner Transport Policy
Equal Education (EE) learner members and post-school youth members are picketing outside the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education (KZNDoE) in Pietermaritzburg today, to call out the KZNDoE for the lack of political-will shown by not adopting a final provincial learner transport policy.
In 2019, EE and the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) got an order from the Pietermaritzburg High Court, to get the KZNDoE to release the draft transport policy by 30 January 2020. After several delays, the draft policy was finally published for public comment in April 2020 – another vital victory for our #LongWalkToSchool campaign. Along with the EELC, we made a joint submission to the KZNDoE, in which we pointed out many serious shortcomings in the draft policy.
The final policy must be able to improve learners’ access to education. It is vital for enabling thorough data collection and planning, for budgeting, and for ensuring implementation. The policy must also make it possible to easily apply for safe, reliable government subsidised transport.
Following our submission, the KZNDoE asked for an extra 60 days (until the end of October), in the lead up to the publishing of the final policy. In good faith, we agreed to the extension because of the pressure on the department to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has been a year since the draft policy was published, and today, we are demanding that the KZNDoE publish a final version of the policy that fixes the flaws in the draft, including:
- The draft policy does not explain the application process to follow. It should explain how and when to apply, where to collect and hand in application forms, whether applications can be made online, and to whom they must be submitted;
- The draft policy lacks clear time frames. For example, it states that the officials in charge of learner transport must compile a list of all learners requiring transport in each district, without being specific about the time frame within which this must be completed;
- The division of roles and responsibilities between the KZN Department of Transport and the KZNDoE is unclear and confusing;
- While specifically accommodating learners with disabilities, it only makes provision for learners with disabilities who attend public special schools, and does not cater for learners with disabilities who attend public ordinary schools; and
- The draft policy treats funding shortages as inevitable, and does not make an attempt to provide a long-term plan to get the necessary funding.
We will not stop applying pressure on the KZNDoE to publish the final learner transport policy until all learners in KZN are free from the burden of walking exhausting and dangerous routes to school!
When: Thursday 22 April 2021
Time: 8am to 11am
Where: Burger Street, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education offices (Pietermaritzburg)
For further information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Jay-Dee Cyster (Equal Education Communications Officer) firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 924 1352