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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

PSC joins SAHRC in investigating unplaced Western Cape learners

31 March 2021

Cape Town - The Public Service Commission (PSC) has joined the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in investigating the issue of unplaced learners in the province, saying it directly affects the constitutional right of learners to education.
In a leaked document, PSC commissioner Leonard Goosen said his office has engaged the national officials to assess to what extent the PSC has previously done work on the issue of unplaced learners, nationally and provincially.

Goosen said their initial assessment was that the matter was an entirely new area of focus for the PSC.

He said he would approach the matter in two ways - to immediately engage education MEC Debbie Schäfer and the department.

“We will request information on the exact numbers of unplaced learners, the affected areas, the contingency plans in place, and how the WCED will ensure that learners have access to education without delay,” said Goosen.

He said this would be followed with a PSC inspection at the identified district offices and an engagement with the relevant district directors and circuit managers to ascertain the impact at the coal face.

Goosen said the second step would be to investigate the strategic and operational planning elements that were highlighted by the ANC’s provincial spokesperson on education, Khalid Sayed; infrastructure delivery in affected areas; data intelligence and how that feeds into planning and contingency planning and budget and use of current assets.

Schäfer said they would respond to the PSC, but it was not clear why another body wanted to investigate the issue, because they had already met with the SAHRC last week on the same matter.

Schäfer said the same questions keep being asked with the expectation that the answers would change.

“We gave them the same answers we have given all along: we do not have the budget to cope with the increased demand for places,” said Schäfer.

The revelation of the PSC investigation plan comes in light of Equal Education and the Equal Education Law Centre urging the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to carefully reconsider some of the shortcomings that would have a negative impact on the right to education.

The two groups made a submission on the draft school admissions policy.

The groups said the draft amended policy was silent on the obligation of Education MECs to ensure learners were placed at schools, and it failed to tackle the problems with the admission administration system.

DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the department has received more than 6 000 comments from a wide spectrum of stakeholders, and it was processing all of the inputs.

“There is no way of knowing who proposed what at this stage. What the (two groups) have done is exactly what the department expected South Africans to do. We applaud them for their participation,” said Mhlanga.

Source: Cape Argus

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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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