Catalan Ombudsman recommends regulatory changes to prevent inequality in school transport and lunchroom services


(c) Jordi Soteras

The Catalan Ombudsman proposes inclusion of geographic distance and income criteria to qualify for this service free of charge, and not just enrolment in a school in a municipality other than that of the student's residence, the only eligible case under current regulations.

This proposal is one of the suggestions taken up in the special report Provision and Access to School Transport and Lunchroom Services, that Ombudsman Rafael Ribó delivered to Parliament today. A total of 69 complaints related with school transport, and 73 related with school lunchrooms, have been received between 2007 and 2009. The number of complaints has doubled in the past three years.

The report demonstrates that there are autonomous communities that have passed regulations to extend these services for free, and that include criteria such as geographic distance (distance from home to school of over three kilometres), urban configuration (municipalities with dispersed centres), financial status (low family income) and special educational needs (students with disabilities enrolled in regular schools). Further, these benefits are available to students beyond mandatory education. None of these cases are applicable in Catalonia.