The Eastern Cape department of education has agreed to provide transport to pupils who are walking 10km or more to school.
Four schools — Tyityaba Primary School, July Senior Secondary School, Sakhingomso Primary School and Nathaniel Pamla High School — all based in villages near Peddie and represented by the Legal Resources Centre — approached the high court in Makhanda last month to order the provincial government to provide transport to those who qualify.
The Mail & Guardian reported two weeks ago that, according to an affidavit by Petros Majola, the director of the Khula Community Development Project, some parents paid R500 a month for private transport to ferry their children, and that some parents have had to use half or more of their child support grant to pay to get their children to school.
Majola said in his affidavit that pupils as young as six were walking long distances to school even though they qualify for state-provided transport.
The schools approached Khula to help them to take the matter to court.
In an answering affidavit, the head of the provincial department of education, Themba Kojana, said he had requested the provincial department of transport to provide transport to pupils who qualify for it, as of today.
“I have every reason to believe that, as from that date, transport will be provided to learners who qualify for such transport, in cases where such learners are not presently receiving such transport,” he said.
According to the national policy on transport for schoolchildren, the responsibility for this is shared between the departments of transport and education at provincial and national levels. The provincial departments of education select which pupils qualify.
Kojana also said some of the children in the original application had left the schools and others had moved closer to the schools and no longer required transport.
He said some pupils could not be provided with transport because they were not attending the school closest to where they live — a condition in the scholar transport policy.
But the parties will still go to court to deal with part B of the application, which, among other things, asks the department to publish the latest provincial scholar transport policy of the two departments, and to inform schools of the procedure by which schools and parents should apply for transport.