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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Disabled pupils’ constitutional right to transport under spotlight in court

Pupils with disabilities have a constitutional right to school transport and failure to provide it is discriminatory. A case will be heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday that will put these rights – and government failures – in the spotlight. By PUSELETSO NTHATE.

Equal Education (EE) hopes to force the departments of basic education and transport in KwaZulu-Natal to provide transport for pupils with disabilities in the impoverished Nqutu area.

EE is concerned about a lack of a transport plan for pupils travelling to 12 schools in the area. Investigating conditions in the area, it learnt that a mother had to carry her daughter to school until she was no longer able to do so. Another learner had to drive her electric wheelchair 5km because she cannot afford private transport.

On Tuesday, SECTION27 will represent Siphilisa Isizwe, an organisation supporting disabled children, when joining forces with EE in a case to be heard at the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Siphilisa Isizwe was admitted as a friend of the court and it aims to represent learners with disabilities in Nqutu to be included in the province’s plans for scholar transport.

Siphilisa Isizwe is based in and services the Umkhanyakude District, one of the poorest districts in South Africa. With an almost 60% unemployment rate, social grants are the main source of income for most people.

About 182,153 children in the province (aged between five and 18) are disabled. This estimate includes pupils with physical and intellectual disabilities, which makes up 5.8% of all pupils in KwaZulu-Natal.

People in this area walk a long distance to access education, health and social services and rely on public transport.

EE is arguing that there was a lack of a plan and the existing policy was at odds with the rights to basic education and to......Continue reading HERE