The Makhanda-based Legal Resources Centre (LRC) has extended the Department of Basic Education deadline to arrange scholar transport for 129 Makhanda and Fort Beaufort learners and submit a plan for the provision of scholar transport to all learners in need in the Eastern Cape. JOY HINYIKIWILE spoke to two Manley Flats mothers about the impact of the disruptions in scholar transport provision on their daily struggle to get their children to Makhanda schools.
Noluvuyo Ndolo and Linda Peter from Manley Flats say sending their children to school has been difficult. They pay about R700 per child every month to ensure that their children attend school.
Ndolo has three school-going children – one in Grade 11 at Nyaluza Secondary School, another in Grade 7 at Kutliso Daniels and the third in Grade 5 at George Dickerson Primary. A community member helps transport the children to school for a fee on his way to work at 6 am and can only transport them back home when he knocks off at 5 pm.
Ndolo says the situation is hard to manage. She has to wake up very early to prepare enough food for the children to have something to eat during the day. When the children return home from school, they still have to wash their school uniforms and make sure they are ready for the next day. When she does not have money to pay for their transport, the children cannot go to school.
Peter has a son who goes to George Dickerson and is experiencing the same difficulties as Ndolo. She says 16 children in her neighbourhood also struggle to get to school. The children go to TEM Mrwetyana, Nyaluza, Khutliso Daniels, Nombulelo, St Mary’s and George Dickerson. The government is not providing them with scholar transport.
“This issue is not easy for us because we come from different backgrounds. Some of us are not working. We have to use our SASSA grants to pay for the transport,” Peter said.
Deadline extension for DBE over scholar transport
The LRC initially gave the DBE until Friday, 13 May, to organise scholar transport for Makhanda and Fort Beaufort learners. They have struggled to get to school due to disruptions in scholar transport provision. It had also given the department until Thursday, 19 May, to provide a plan to provide transport to all learners who qualify for scholar transport in the Eastern Cape.
According to Ona Xolo, LRC’s leading attorney on the matter, the Department of Basic Education sent an email on 13 May requesting a seven-day indulgence while gathering information from all provinces.
The LRC granted an extension to the DBE, which now has until 24 May to provide scholar transport to all the named learners in the LRC’s letter and provide them with an adequate report on the provision of scholar transport for the coming terms, Xolo said.
The LRC represents concerned parents of public school learners whose children are not receiving scholar transport and the Khula Community Development Project (Khula). This Peddie-based community-based organisation ensures that children from poor communities attend school daily. It wrote a letter to Minister Angie Motshekga about the failure of the Eastern Cape departments of education (ECDE) and transport (ECDT) to provide scholar transport to learners in need.
The organisation argues that the lack of scholar transport prevents learners in need from attending school, infringing upon the children’s right to basic education. The Department of Basic Education needs to regulate the provision of scholar transport across all nine provinces and ensure that all learners who qualify are provided with scholar transport.
Please read our article on the LRC’s letter to Minister Angie Motshekga.
The LRC has given the department until 31 May to confirm that draft regulations will be published for comment within four months and adopted before the end of 2022. “If we do not receive this written undertaking by 31 May 2022, we hold instructions to approach the courts for appropriate relief,” the letter stated.