Ed­u­ca­tional rights of other chil­dren in SA in­ves­ti­gated

The New Age (Free State) - - NEWS - MASEGO TIRO news@the­newage.co.za

THE rights of un­doc­u­mented chil­dren to education in South Africa is un­der fo­cus with the Le­gal Re­source Cen­tre (LRC) launch­ing a case in the Gra­ham­stown High Court to pro­tect their rights.

The LRC is tak­ing up the court bat­tle on be­half of the gov­ern­ing body of Phakamisa High School in Port El­iz­a­beth in the East­ern Cape.

This fol­lows the de­ci­sion by the East­ern Cape depart­ment of education to stop fund­ing pupils with­out iden­tity doc­u­ments, pass­ports or per­mit num­bers.

“Many schools have al­ready been af­fected by this an­nounce­ment and do not have suf­fi­cient teach­ers or bud­gets for learn­ing and teach­ing sup­port ma­te­ri­als and the national school nu­tri­tion pro­gramme,” LRC spokesper­son, Claire Martens, said.

“By with­draw­ing fund­ing, the depart­ment is vi­o­lat­ing the pupils’ con­sti­tu­tional rights to ba­sic education (sec­tion 29) par­tic­u­larly when it is read in con­junc­tion with the pupils’ rights to dig­nity (sec­tion 10) and the right to equal­ity and nondis­crim­i­na­tion (sec­tion 9).

“Phakamisa High School is one of the af­fected schools in the area and they don’t re­ceive fund­ing for those pupils.

“When Phakamisa High School did its post al­lo­ca­tions for the 2017 school year they reg­is­tered 99 pupils who were un­doc­u­mented.

“How­ever, that has been rec­ti­fied and brought down to 37,” Ce­cil van Schalk­wyk of the lo­cal LRC, said.

Van Schalk­wyk also said the rec­ti­fied num­bers were sent to the depart­ment of education’s district of­fice. How­ever, their num­bers still re­flect 77 un­doc­u­mented chil­dren.

The LRC says the failure to fund these pupils is not in the best in­ter­ests of the chil­dren as it vi­o­lates their con­sti­tu­tional rights to ba­sic nu­tri­tion (sec­tion28) and the right to have ac­cess to suf­fi­cient food (sec­tion 27).

“In the past, schools were funded based on ac­tual num­bers of pupils, re­gard­less of whether they had a valid iden­tity, pass­port and per­mit num­bers and not on those reg­is­tered in the sys­tem,” Martens said.

The le­gal or­gan­i­sa­tion also said it was usu­ally the poor and most vul­ner­a­ble pupils who failed to ob­tain proper doc­u­men­ta­tion.

“Of­ten par­ents or guardians fail to take the nec­es­sary steps to reg­is­ter the birth of their chil­dren due to lack of ac­cess to the Depart­ment of Home Af­fairs, or par­ents don’t have the nec­es­sary doc­u­ments to have the birth reg­is­tered or as a di­rect re­sult of mi­grant labour,” Martens said.

The LRC is seek­ing to have the de­ci­sion by the depart­ment set aside and for the depart­ment to re­vise post es­tab­lish­ments and fund­ing in line with ac­tual num­bers of pupils in schools, re­gard­less of their reg­is­tra­tion sta­tus.

PRO­TECT­ING RIGHTS: Claire Martens, LRC spokesper­son.

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