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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

SAHRC urges DBE to guarantee the right to decent education

15 January 2022

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has called on the Department of Basic Education to fulfil its constitutional mandate by making sure that the quality of education in rural, township and suburban schools is equal.

It says the state of education needs to be urgently addressed to guarantee every child the right to a decent education.

Many learners continue to struggle to access better education closer to where they live and flock to suburban schools to seek placement.

“If we want to change these realities and perceptions among parents and learners, we really need basics right as far as quality of education and infrastructure are concerned in townships and rural schools. On 29 November already the Minister of Basic Education published the regulations of minimum norms and standards for infrastructure in schools and many of these deadlines have been met. For example, the deadline for the eradication of pit latrines,” says Human Rights Commissioner Andre Gaum.

Standard of education

The department has denied claims that the standard of education in the township and rural areas has taken a nosedive. Officials say some schools in those areas are performing a 100% matric pass rate while suburban ones are in the 90s in terms of pass rate.

Earlier this week, parents have called on the department to equitably place teachers and resources in schools where they’re most needed. They decry the level of teaching in township and rural schools, saying it has declined.

Reopening of schools

It’s been a roller coaster of a week as parents queue desperately at one of the district offices in Tshwane for their children’s placement.

Some objected to placement offers in schools which they say are far while others prefer suburban ones

“Our problem is that they take these containers to schools that we don’t want – can’t they bring these containers to the schools that we prefer,” said one parent.

Another added, “Go to schools in areas which cater for white people they’re perfectly clean and well kept but ours are a total opposite and not safe for our children.”

But those who’re nearby preferred schools say this is putting a lot of strain on them as they’re also locked outside.

This parent explained, “Let list A be brought back for all local short kilometer radius and list B for kids who want to have space in Akasia, Gerrit Maritz and so forth – because they want better education as they claim to. But currently what we see is the opposite thereof and we’re very sorry this doesn’t work.”

This has elicited a call for curriculum discrepancies to be addressed.

COSAS’s Douglas Ngobeni says, “The only time we can respond to the quality of education in SA is if we have a career-orientated curriculum that speaks to our daily challenges as young South Africans. Because every now and then, we’re changing the name of the curriculum and not the content from caps now we’re going to and nothing will have changed in the content of the curriculum.”

The South African Human Rights Commission has also weighed in on the matter.

“The Commission believes that govt should really re-prioritise education as a number one priority as far as budget is concerned – but also as far as efficiency and effectiveness and the improvement of quality is concerned. Education is a very important right. It’s an enabling right; it’s a pathway to the realisation of many of the other rights in our bill of rights and therefore it should be treated accordingly,” Gaum indicates.

The Gauteng education department says it has allocated R240 million to address the shortages of classrooms.

Source: SABC

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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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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