This week, for the first time after four years, a ten-year girl with severe sight impairment goes to school by a vehicle provided by the Municipality of Smederevska Palanka. Head of the Municipal Administration promised that the Municipality will provide a driver and a vehicle that would take the girl to school and back every day throughout the school year.
We remind that the girl was born with severe sight impairment and that over the past four years, ever since she started the primary school, her parents have been trying to persuade the Municipality of Smederevska Palanka to provide her the transportation to and from school, which is the obligation of each municipality according to the Law on the Fundamentals of the Education System. The Municipality of Smederevska Palanka has been unsuccessfully reminded of this legal obligation over the past years by the School Inspection, the Ombudsman and the Commissioner for Protection of Equality, which in 2015 found that the Municipality shall take all necessary measures to ensure the transportation to the girl.
As the Municipality failed to act upon the Commissioner’s recommendation, in November 2015 Praxis filed a lawsuit for establishing of discrimination against the Municipality of Smederevska Palanka which by denying the right to transportation to and from school to the girl also denies her the right to education. On the basis of the above-stated lawsuit, the Supreme Court in Belgrade issued a judgment in April 2016 and established that the Municipality acted discriminatory towards the girl as it rejected to provide the transport to school, violating thus the principle of equality prescribed by the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, and provisions of the Law on Prohibition of the Discrimination in Education.
With the provided transportation, the continuation of education would be significantly facilitated to the girl. However, the access to school is just one of the steps towards the exercise of the right to education. Quality education and respect for the principle of equality means much more – along with the transportation, the textbooks in Braille alphabet, as well as a qualified personal assistant, should be also available to the girl.