Founded in 2012, the EELC is registered as a law clinic with the Cape Law Society and its staff of social justice lawyers specialise in education policy, legal advocacy, community lawyering and public interest litigation. The EELC engages in strategic litigation regarding major issues surrounding long-term educational reform, as well as working on individual cases arising from experiences of learners, parents and teachers, such as expulsions, disciplinary matters and access to schools. The EELC provides legal services and representation free of charge to persons who would not otherwise be able to afford them. The legal processes pursued by the EELC seek to create systemic change in the education sector.
The EELC is also closely connected to the campaigns of its sister organisation, Equal Education (EE). EE is a movement of learners, parents, teachers and community members, working for quality and equality in South African education, through analysis and activism. The EELC provides legal advice and interventions and, where necessary, strategic litigation, to support the campaigns led by EE members.
The EELC is committed to building a society in which the quality of education received by learners is not dependent on their socio-economic status and their parents’ ability to pay school fees. Its overriding goal is to ensure the realisation of every learner’s right to an equitable, safe and adequate basic education by employing the law and the Constitution.
The EELC also engages in non-legal processes to advocate for legal and policy development in the education sector, including submissions to relevant government institutions, conducting legal and policy research related to our objectives and where possible, assisting communities, community-based organisations and other institutions in formulating their own policy and legal perspectives.
A vital part of the EELC’s core mission is supporting the work of Equal Education (EE), a membership-based movement of activists struggling for quality and equal education in South Africa. EE has provided a voice for learners, parents and communities to influence the changing landscape of South African education through grassroots leadership development, community building, media campaigns, policy analysis and contributions to parliamentary debates. The EELC is EE’s key strategic partner.
In working to ensure that all learners in South Africa are able to realise their right to an equitable and adequate basic education, the EELC also focuses its efforts on improving accountability mechanisms in existence throughout the public education system.
In its mission to further education opportunities for South African learners, the EELC has previously dealt with cases regarding school admissions, learner exclusion, discrimination
and the provision of security for schools in unsafe areas and department accountability.
Currently, EELC’s focus areas include the implementation of the Regulations Relating to Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure, and ensuring that vagueness and loopholes in the Regulations are corrected; the provision of scholar transport in KZN and the adoption of a national scholar transport policy, and targeted interventions around access to schools in the Western Cape.
In addition to its focus areas, the EELC also actively monitors allegations of corruption connected to education, and is engaging with the Department of Basic Education about condom policies and measures to address the crisis in learner pregnancy, as well as to protect the rights of pregnant learners.