The Equal Education Law Centre has taken legal action against the Western Cape Education Department over seven learners who have not been placed at a school in the Metro East District.
The Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) has observed the trend of unplaced learners in the Western Cape over the years.
In January 2022, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) reported 3 589 unplaced Grade 1 and Grade 8 learners, this is excluding the 32 000 late applications received by the WCED.
By 15 March 2022 there were 341 unplaced Grade 1 and Grade 8 learners in the Western Cape.
EELC, Executive Director Tshegofatso Phala spoke to eNCA expressing concern for the seven learners who remain unplaced in the province for the 2022 academic year.
The EELC has taken legal action against the Education MEC, WCED HOD and the Metro East Education district director.
The EELC Media and Communications Co-ordinator Anele Gcwabe said that this action was taken as parents and caregivers of the seven learners who remain unplaced have either not received assistance or have been told to wait for next year.
Gcwabe says that the EELC has never litigated the WCED and sees this action as the last resort to engage with the department to fix the issue of these unplaced learners.
Gcwabe stated:”In circumstances where the rights of learners are continuously violated, we are left no option but to litigate. The seven learners and other similarly placed learners who are of school-going age are out of school and cannot be expected to wait until next year for school placement. Such an undertaking would be nothing but a travesty of justice.”
The EELC Executive Director says that some parents have been told that schools have been oversubscribed and that they would have to apply for admission next year and other parents have not received any communication regarding the placement of the learners.
Schools in the Metro East District of the province have been experiencing overcrowding for many years and Phala says the online application system as well as bad administrative practices has made it more difficult for learners to secure a placement at schools in this area.
She says that many learners needing placement have not been recorded and tracked which leads to an inaccurate count of unplaced learners.
The EELC’s urgent application will be heard on 23 May 2022 and Phala says that the aim is to get the seven learners placed at schools immediately as well as providing them with appropriate catch-up plans.
The EELC’s application also requests that an audit takes place to find out if there are any other learners in the district who are unplaced and find solutions to this issue.