The South African Human Rights Commission (the SAHRC or the Commission) welcomes the commitment of all stakeholders, including government, unions and school governing body associations, to the opening of schools for Grade 7 and 12 learners on 8 June 2020.
This is in line with the Commission’s view on the basic right to education for all children in South Africa.
However, the Commission will continue to monitor the challenges faced by schools in ensuring schools open for Grade 7 and 12 learners, which will include school visits; and will publish these as results become available.
The Commission will continue to insist that no learner is left behind and will focus on delivery of health and safety requirements to schools that have not received such, and alternative arrangements for learners to access learning materials where schools have not been able to open.
The activities undertaken by the SAHRC are aimed at achieving long-term and sustainable impact. It is envisioned that the initiatives will enable the SAHRC to have a substantial impact on monitoring and protecting rights.
Monitoring activities and/or engagement with stakeholders will focus on continued access to education for all learners in light of Covid-19 responses and recovery plans. The Commission shall place considerable focus on support for learners in Grades R to 6 while they are not at school.
The Commission has developed an in-depth overview of the key Covid-19 implications on the right to a basic education. Ensuring access to adequate food, nutrition and learning materials for learners are key components of an adequate response to the epidemic.
The Commission shall also seek expertise and guidance on a number of related issues, particularly access to education during lockdown, the need to bridge the inequality / digital divide, ensuring inclusive learning, as well as an increased focus on foundation-phase learning.