The new charter is the third such, following the example of Ireland and the UK. The Charter of Children’s Basic Education Rights is intended to inform pupils of their basic rights. Rastafarian pupil Sinothando Booi, 14, who was recently booted out of MV Kwinana High, in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape, for wearing dreadlocks, celebrates going back to school.
Legal Resources Centre attorney Cameron McConnachie said the charter will ensure that all stakeholders, including pupils and parents, will be aware of the government’s legal duties to provide a decent education.
“It’s very clear what needs to be done and what the main issues are. As more and more people become aware, they will use the charter to ensure that education is improved the way government envisioned it.”
The 36-page charter outlines the government’s obligations to ensure that education is available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable.
The charter subscribes to the principles of the constitution and highlights the challenges facing education in terms of culture, safety, discrimination, infrastructure and society’s changing needs.
Human Rights Commission member Lindiwe Mokate said the charter would ensure that communities were fully informed of the government’s legal obligations – internationally, nationally and regionally – in terms of basic education .
“There has been progress in education but huge challenges, which negatively affect the poor and vulnerable, remain.”
Though it is not a legally binding document, the charter provides a list of the benefits that children and parents can reasonably expect of the education system, and a means by which principals and teachers can formulate strategies for their schools and measure performance.
The charter is also intended to be a source of information for members of parliament.