Equal Education and Law Centre Sue Western Cape Education Department Over Out-of-School Learners

Equal Education and Equal Education Law Centre file urgent lawsuit against Western Cape Education Department to compel placement of all out-of-school learners, highlighting ongoing challenges in ensuring equal access to education.

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Mazhar Abbas
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Equal Education and Law Centre Sue Western Cape Education Department Over Out-of-School Learners

Equal Education Sues Western Cape Education Department Over Unplaced Learners

Equal Education and the Equal Education Law Centre have filed an urgent lawsuit in the Cape Town High Court against the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). The lawsuit aims to compel the department to place all out-of-school learners in the Western Cape into schools.

The organizations, along with five parents, accuse the WCED of failing to adequately plan for learner placements. "The majority of affected learners are from disadvantaged backgrounds and applying late should not mean losing the right to education," said Yolisa Piliso, an attorney at Equal Education Law Centre, in an interview with eNCA.

Equal Education and the Equal Education Law Centre are seeking an urgent order for the immediate placement of all out-of-school late applicant learners, as well as a declaration that the WCED's failure to promptly place these learners is unconstitutional.

The WCED says they had placed 99.4% of applicants by the end of 2023, but received nearly 4,000 extremely late applications after January 1, 2024, which they have since placed. The department is opposing the matter and preparing its response to the lawsuit.

Why this matters: The case highlights ongoing challenges in ensuring equal access to education for all learners in South Africa, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The outcome could set an important precedent for the obligations of education departments to accommodate late applicants and uphold the constitutional right to education.

The urgent court application by Equal Education and the Equal Education Law Centre seeks to ensure that no learner is denied their right to education due to late applications or inadequate planning by the WCED. As the legal proceedings unfold, the Cape Town High Court's ruling will be closely watched for its potential impact on education access and equity in the Western Cape and beyond.

Key Takeaways

  • Equal Education and Equal Education Law Centre filed lawsuit against WCED.
  • Lawsuit aims to compel WCED to place all out-of-school learners in schools.
  • WCED placed 99.4% of applicants by end of 2023, but had 4,000 late applications.
  • Case highlights challenges in ensuring equal education access, especially for disadvantaged.
  • Outcome could set precedent for education departments' obligations to late applicants.