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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Angry Milnerton parents turn to SAHRC over 'unfair' aftercare policy

4 February 2010

Cape Town – Aggrieved parents of Milnerton Primary school pupils have turned to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in the hope that the school will change its policy banning children from aftercare if their parents pick them up late on three or more occasions.
Earlier this month, the Cape Times reported that Nathi Fokazi called the school out for what he said was its unfair aftercare policy, which saw his 10-year-old daughter banned from the school’s aftercare for life after he fetched her late six times in a year.
Fokazi said that on all occasions he wasn’t late by more than a few minutes.
Now Fokazi’s struggle has been joined by other parents who have staged protests outside the school and lodged a formal complaint with the SAHRC.
Lerato Mafuya said her child was no longer in after-care but still attended the school, and she felt the frustration of other parents.

“The rules are unreasonable and I’m not sure who they are meant to accommodate. I know from experience that when they enforce the rules they are very petty and it is not fair.
"They have the discretion on who is held accountable. You find that if you are friendly with aftercare teachers they let it slide.
“I wrote to the school asking about the constitutionality of the policy and I feel it is null and void because the person that is impacted, the child, is not party to the contract.

"The actions that she is being punished for are actions beyond her control. The interests of the child do not seem to be taken into account by the school.”
SAHRC commissioner Chris Nissen said he was aware of the complaint and they were looking into it.
“Although it is alleged, we reject that kind of behaviour. If what the parents are saying is true, we will ask for corrective action,” Nissen said.

The school referred questions to the Education Department.
In a letter to parents, principal Warick Middleton said the school noted the protest which started on Friday.
“We have an internationally celebrated, robust and wonderfully progressive Constitution that provides and allows for a demonstration such as this.
"However, the Constitution does not provide for the intimidation and scare-mongering of children in the process of making your adult objections known.
"This is sadly what took place on Friday and again, but to a lesser extent, today.”
Middleton added that the school did not endorse this behaviour and said that learners that were affected received the opportunity to speak to the school counsellor.
WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the school only had the responsibility to ensure learning.
“Aftercare facilities are not included. They function separately to the school day and it may be an additional function that the school may offer - either through an independent service provider or through the SGB.”

Source: Cape Times

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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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