WCED ordered to assist all 2022 unplaced learners in the Metro East Education District
For immediate release
On Friday, 03 June 2022, Justice Gamble in the Western Cape High Court issued an order directing the Head of Department (HOD) Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and the District Director of the Metro East Education District, to place seven unplaced learners in school by Friday, 10 June 2022. The Court Order has further instructed the District Director and the HOD to take all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure that all learners who are placed in a similar position as the unplaced seven and who remain at home for the 2022 academic year, are also placed in school. This court order follows a court hearing held on 27 May 2022 which came about as a result of the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) and six parents / caregivers, taking urgent legal action against WCED for its failure to assist unplaced learners in the Metro East Education District.
In order to ensure that parents and caregivers of learners who are currently unplaced for 2022 are made aware of the order, the court has directed the HOD and District Director to circulate a notice on local radio stations and newspapers by 14 June 2022, calling on all parents and caregivers of unplaced learners in the Metro East District, to approach the Department for assistance. Parents and caregivers are required to respond to this call by 29 June 2022.
In collaboration with the parents and caregivers, necessary steps will have to be taken by the Department to provide all unplaced learners who are identified with academic and psychosocial support and a catch-up plan. The parents will have to be provided with Individual Support Plans (ISPs) for each learner in order to assist them due to the learning time which they have lost.
The EELC is pleased with the order of the Court and looks forward to Part B of the application which will be heard on a semi-urgent bases in November 2022. Whilst the urgent part of the application was aimed at obtaining immediate placement of all unplaced learners for the 2022 academic year and the provision of support, Part B seeks to address the longstanding crises of unplaced learners in the Western Cape, in particular the Metro East Education District who simply fall between the cracks. Part B aims to direct the role-players within the WCED to fulfill their statutory obligation by adequately managing and planning for the admission and registration of learners at ordinary public schools and placing all learners. We also seek to have the failure to take a decision on the placement of the 7 learners, and other similarly placed learners, in 2022 declared unconstitutional and unlawful, and to have it reviewed. Part B of the EELC’s court application also seeks to make sure that there is a plan in place on the steps that are to be taken to ensure that enough space is available for learners in public schools by the beginning of the 2023 academic year.
There is a need for proper plans to be put in place which make access to school possible for all learners irrespective of their socio-economic circumstances. The Metro East district includes Khayelitsha, Kraaifotein, Strand, Macassar, Somerset West and Kuilsriver. The EELC remains concerned that currently hundreds of learners are simply being left out due to the WCED’s unclear and exclusionary admission system which extends to the online admissions platform. There is also a lack of clear plans for assisting parents and caregivers who are unable to make online applications or apply outside the WCED’s timeline for applications due to varying circumstances. We are hopeful that this court application will contribute towards the proper recording of unplaced learner within the WCED and inform better planning.
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The Equal Education Law Centre EELC is a public interest litigation organisation which seeks to address systemic inequalities in the South African education system through coordinated strategies, advocacy and action to bring about sustained change. The EELC provides a daily walk-in clinic, which offers free legal support to individuals and communities. The lawyers employed by the EELC provide legal support, litigation where necessary, and on the ground interventions to assist marginalised learners and community members in realising their rights to equality, dignity and education