Minister must give effect to SAHRC recommendations – Desiree van der Walt

DA says advice in report should be implemented urgently to end protests and mitigate loss of teaching time

DA requests Minister to give effect to SAHRC recommendations starting with Vuwani 

19 September 2016

The DA has written to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, requesting that the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report be tabled in Parliament and its recommendations given effect to without delay. The SAHRC was charged with investigating the effects of protest action on the quality of education received by our learners across the country.  

Following the release of the report, the DA will also request that the Minister avail herself to Parliament to explain what her plan of action is to give effect to these remedial actions contained in the report which should be tabled in Parliament by the SAHRC pursuant to section 181(5) of the Constitution of the Republic.

The key recommendations instruct the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to constitute an interdepartmental National Public Protest Response Team. This national body should include relevant government departments. Specifically, the SAPS and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) and other relevant stakeholders should collaborate to ensure our nations learners are not precluded from receiving the education to which they are entitled pursuant to the Schools Act.

The guidelines the Response Team should set out to deal with are as follows:

- The structure of the National Response Team should be replicated at the provincial level and where necessary, at the local level.

- The DBE should produce a report, within 9 months on the activates of the National Response Team.

The report, entitled National Investigative Hearing into the Impact of Protest-related Action on the Right to a Basic Education in South Africa, was released late last week and was mandated to specifically address the following: 

- The extent which protest-related action has affected the right to basic education; 

- Whether policy mechanisms at national, provincial and local government level are adequate to detect and prevent public protests from adversely affecting children’s right to basic education; 

- Whether early warning mechanisms are in place to ensure that schools are secure and that learning is not; 

- Whether measures are in place to monitor the impact of protest-related action on the right to basic education? These are questions? Are these the findings themselves?

This report comes at the appropriate time given that protest action has, in recent times, adversely affected our educational system. This is most notably the case in Vuwani where a school was burnt to the ground over the weekend due to protracted service delivery protest action. This, we contend, underscores the urgency to implement the recommendations contained in the report if we are to mitigate the loss of teaching time for many learners of the community. 

In my interaction with Minister Motshekga I will be asking the Minister to provide a timelines for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report and when the recommended National Public Protest Response Team will be constituted. 

With increasing protests that target schools the Minister has a duty to ensure and secure the right to basic education in the interests of our children.

Issued by Desiree Van Der Walt, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, 19 September 2016