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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Children's Rights and Basic Education

The South African Human Rights Commission identified seven key strategic focus areas in order to effectively fulfil its mandate of promoting, protecting and monitoring the realisation of human rights in South Africa. Each of the Commission’s seven Commissioners are assigned a strategic focus area and Children’s Rights and Basic Education is one of the key strategic areas.
The Children’s Rights and Basic Education portfolio, under Commissioner Lindiwe Mokate, has a mandate to promote, protect and monitor the realisation of children’s rights, including the right to basic education. The work of the portfolio is informed by the mandate of the Commission which derives from the Constitution, relevant national legislation and applicable international and regional instruments.

The portfolio also benefits from the counsel of an Advisory Committee set up in terms of the applicable legislation. The Advisory Committee comprises of experts from different disciplines and institutions, who advise the Commission on matters and interventions relating to children’s rights. Such Advisory Committees provide critical input and expertise in the execution of the Commission’s mandate and guidance on strategic issues impacting on the work of the Commission from an external, independent and critical point of view.

Upcoming Events

Launch of the Hearing Report on the Impact of Protest-Related Action on the Right to a Basic, 15 September 2016
The South African Human Rights Commission will hold a national investigative hearing on the Impact of protest-related actions on the right to education in South Africa. The hearing will take place from 13 to 15 June 2016.

One of the key focus areas of the Commission’s work is “child rights and basic education”. Over the years the Commission has worked on these rights through a range of interventions, responding to systemic concerns and the need for reforms.

The Commission acknowledges that the right to assembly, demonstration, picket and petition (hereinafter referred to as “right to protest”) as contained in section 17 of the Constitution is an integral right that requires respect and protection. However, the exercise of such a right should not negatively impact on other rights, such as the right to a basic education. Given the historical trajectory of closures of schools on account of protest actions, and despite the factors which inform such protests, the Commission deems it appropriate for immediate reforms to be implemented. These reforms must take account of the practical realities recorded from the past, the need for cooperation and integration, prioritisation, end-to-end support and optimal protection of the rights of learners.

Recent trends, in which protest-related action has increasingly had a negative impact on schools and children’s attendance at school, are disconcerting. Frequently, the context within which the protests take place are not connected to education. Consequently, and in line with its constitutional mandate, the Commission seeks to undertake a national hearing where stakeholders can help to find solutions so that children’s right to a basic education is respected by all.

It has become apparent through the Commission’s monitoring mandate that the right to a basic education is being rendered extremely vulnerable. This conclusion triggers the protection mandate of the Commission and has occasioned the need for a national hearing to highlight and explore the issue, its impact and to develop recommendations to ensure better respect for and protection of the right to a basic education.

A number of stakeholder from government (national and provincial) as well as law enforcement and civil society are expected to participate in the hearings.

For further information please contact:
Dr Martin Nsibirwa
Senior Manager: SAHRC
T: +27 11 877 3823
E: mnsibirwa@sahrc.org.za

Past Events

National investigative hearing on the impact of protest-related actions on the right to a basic education in South Africa

  • 13th to 15th June 2016

The South African Human Rights Commission held a national investigative hearing on the Impact of protest-related actions on the right to education in South Africa. The hearing took place from 13 to 15 June 2016.
“Mining the Real Gold: Children and Youth as Stakeholders in building the future of Africa”, Cape Town, 09 February 2016
  • Commissioner Mokate is responsible for Basic Education and Children Portfolio's
  • Speech by Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga
  • Mr Wakefield, Researcher at Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape
  • Presentation by Ms Patricia Martin regarding the development of the Charter

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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The SAHRC promotes, protects and monitors human rights in South Africa. It also has a specific responsibility to promote and monitor the implementation of PAIA.