Johannesburg: 2 September 2021

SECTION27 welcomes the news that the KwaZulu Natal (KZN) Learner Transport Policy was approved by the KZN cabinet on 9 June 2021 and came into effect on 1 July 2021. The implementation of this policy comes in response to sustained advocacy and litigation as far back as 2017.

In November 2017, Equal Education represented by the Equal Education Law Centre secured 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.

SECTION27 represented disability rights organisation Siphilisa Isizwe, which intervened as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the litigation. Our intention was to ensure that the transport needs for learners with disabilities were fully heard in the court case, and taken into account by the Court in its remedies.

Siphilisa Isizwe and SECTION27’s intervention in the case has ensured that the KZN DoE makes key commitments in respect of the providing transport for learners with disabilities. The Policy notes that:

  1. all processes involved from planning to implementation must take cognisance of the needs of learners with disabilities; and that
  2. in the implementation of the scholar transport programme, priority will be given to, amongst others, learners with disabilities.

In its purpose, scope and implementation, the policy states that it is applicable to 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.

We urge the national and provincial departments of education to scrutinise all new law and policy that impacts learners to ensure that it is sufficiently inclusive. We encourage provinces who do not make provision for learners with disabilities in their transport policies to follow the example the KZN DoE has set and implement inclusive policies to ensure the realisation of the right to basic education for all learners in South Africa.

We join Equal Education and the Equal Education Law Centre in their call for the KZN DoE to publish this policy in the Government Gazette and make it public on its website.

For more information contact: Ntsiki Mpulo 082 782 7143 mpulo@section27.org.za