The South African Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) has been allowed to join a matter before the Grahamstown High Court, in which the applicants are taking the Minister of Basic Education to court to ensure the right to education for undocumented learners.
In a statement, the SAHRC said it had on Tuesday been allowed to join as an amicus curiae in the matter of Centre for Child Law and 25 others v Minister of Basic Education and 4 others.
“The SAHRC is hopeful that this litigation will provide much needed clarity in relation to the scope and meaning of the right to a basic education insofar as undocumented learners are concerned,” the commission said in a statement on Tuesday night.
“Despite guidance having been provided by international human rights bodies confirming that the right is guaranteed to all persons irrespective of documented or legal status, the current legal system in South Africa does not provide adequate protection to such learners.”
The commission said human rights are guaranteed to all persons by virtue of the fact that they are human, and the exclusion of children from accessing a basic education would have “devastating implications, not only on the individuals concerned, but on the country and the region as a whole”.
“This case is therefore crucial in ensuring that the country aligns itself to international human rights standards, and is a critical step in ensuring universal access to the right to a basic education, to non-discrimination, dignity, and the rights of the child in South Africa.”
The matter is set to be heard in September 2019.
The SAHRC said that in the interim, it will continue to engage with relevant stakeholders around policy reform and temporary measures to ensure that rights are protected and upheld pending the outcome of the case.