110515: Children from Hlalele Primary in Nquthu spend nearly two hours walking to school. Picture: Sandile Makhoba Picture:SANDILE MAKHOBA
110515: Children from Hlalele Primary in Nquthu spend nearly two hours walking to school. Picture: Sandile Makhoba Picture:SANDILE MAKHOBA

Equal Education celebrates finalisation of KZN Learner Transport Policy

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Sep 2, 2021

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Education advocacy organisation, Equal Education’s (EE) fight to ensure that no child in KwaZulu Natal will have to walk long distances to get to school has finally reached an end with the organisation celebrating their victory.

On Wednesday, EE announced that after seven years of tireless activism its legal centre has succeeded in getting the final KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Learner Transport Policy released.

“We have analysed the policy, and believe that the KZN Department of Education (KZN DoE) and KZN Department of Transport (KZN DoT) have at last applied themselves to the development of a policy that addresses the need for safe, reliable, government-subsidised learner transport across the province. A solid provincial policy is key for better planning, (including data collection and budgeting), and to ensuring proper implementation,” EE said in a statement.

In 2017 EE approached the courts and got a court order by consent, in terms of which the KwaZulu Natal Department of Education (KZN DoE) was required to produce a policy for the provision of transport to schools for learners across KwaZulu-Natal.

Fast-forward to June 9, 2021, the KwaZulu Natal cabinet approved the Learner Transport Policy which came into effect on July 1st.

According to Section 27, another human rights advocacy group, the policy states that it is applicable to the transportation of learners from grade R to 12, including learners with disabilities. This is a significant victory for learners with disabilities across the province.

“The policy details the criteria to be used to prioritise learners with disabilities which include the nature and extent of the disability, the age of the learner, the distance of travel to the nearest appropriate school or school of parental choice. This is a welcome development and we encourage the KZN DoE to take into account that learners with disabilities will require transport close to their homes as some may have to overcome significant hurdles to reach pick-up points,” said Section 27.

A former member of EE in KwaZulu Natal Palisa Motloung said:“As someone who has experienced all the disappointments and procrastinations on issuing the policy by the department, I have to say this is incredibly surreal. We have longed for the Learner Transport Policy to be published for years. Now that it is here, congratulations to all the comrades who invested their all to realise this dream of many learners in KZN.”

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