Court Orders WCED To Place Learners



A recent ruling by the Western Cape High Court compels the Western Cape Education Department to place all students who applied to schools. This is a significant development for learners who have missed months in the classroom. 



The Western Cape High Court mandated the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) to ensure the placement of all learners who applied to schools in the Metro East Education District for the 2024 school year. This is significant as the order requires the WCED to place these learners who may have missed almost two terms of classroom time. 

Equal Education (EE) says that the ruling addresses a ongoing issue where many students have been left waiting for school placements without clear plans or timelines. 

The court found that the WCED classified learners as "placed" upon receiving an automatic online notification, even if they were not formally enrolled or attending school. Many affected learners and their families either did not receive the notifications or were turned away by schools, resulting in months of missed education.

EE explained that the High Court's order redefines "placement" to mean formal enrollment with placement letters, allowing learners to attend appropriate schools. This aims to ensure that all learners are meaningfully placed and their right to education is upheld.

This ruling comes after the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) brought an application to the High Court on 11 April 2024, against the Western Cape Government and the Department of Basic Education. The case highlighted the WCED's failure to adequately plan for learner placement year after year.

In part A of the application, EE wanted the WCED to provide remedial plans for learners placed late in the school year. However, these requests were denied as the WCED committed to conducting assessments in the regular course and meeting legislative obligations. 

Unfortunately, these orders have been refused as the WCED indicated that assessments would be done by schools ‘in the ordinary course’ and that they would meet their legislative obligations – an undertaking which the court accepted and which we will actively be monitoring!

Additionally, the court ordered the Western Cape Government, which sought cost orders against EELC legal practitioners, to pay the legal costs of the application.

Part B of the application, set to proceed on a semi-urgent basis, challenged the WCED's policies on late applications, alleging they discriminate based on race, poverty, place of birth, and social origin. 

Our work towards ensuring that the right to basic education is indeed enjoyed by “everyone”, continues. The right to education is not and should not be a numbers game, but rather the prioritisation of access to “ALL”. 

EE and EELC said they will continue to monitor the implementation of this court order to ensure that all affected learners are meaningfully placed and can access education. 

We remain resolute in ensuring the rights of every learner in the Western Cape are protected. No learner should be left behind! #SofundaSonke

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