VUWANI PROTEST: A THREAT TO LEARNERS’ RIGHT TO BASIC EDUCATION
Giyani, 4 September 2017 – Basic Education for All (BEFA) notes with concern the ongoing threat to the right to basic education of Vuwani learners as a result of the recurring protest action over demarcation issues. These protests have once again forced the shutdown of schools in and around the area. The latest shutdown this week follows last year’s three month long actions which saw several schools damaged and classes suspended. Every time there is a protest, the education of learners is at stake. Last year, over twenty-five schools were damaged and schooling was greatly affected. It is sad to see eager learners roaming around, having been denied access to schooling. The schools that did not close were targeted and torched.
Clearly, the prevailing atmosphere is becoming more toxic and highly retributive. While BEFA strongly believes that everyone has the right to protest, we condemn these recent actions in the strongest possible terms. Learners’ education can’t be used as a pawn in community battles. The right to protest shouldn’t pin down learners’ right to education. The Constitutional right to basic education is, therefore, as much under attack. All community leaders, department of education and various stakeholders have a fundamental constitutional duty to “uphold, respect and defend” learners’ constitutional rights to basic education.
The most worrying factor is in a few weeks learners will start to write exams. If this protest should take place for longer, Vuwani learners and the future economic aspirations of numerous poor, black and marginalised families will be greatly affected. Despite Vhembe district topping other districts in the 2016 matric pass rate, the last Vuwani protests had a demonstrable negative impact, with the pass rate declining from 74.7 % in 2015 to 70.3% in 2016.
BEFA calls upon community leaders, the Limpopo Department of Education (LDoE) and other stakeholders to quickly intervene to protect the education of Vuwani learners. Last year, BEFA sent a delegation of members to inspect schools and helped raise funds to assist affected learners catch up, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), SECTION27 and the Kagiso Trust. We are committed to continue working with all stakeholders to ensure a speedy return to schooling in the area as soon as possible.
For more information, please contact:
Samuel Makhwarela (Chairperson): number (English, Venda) 082 314 0606
Charles Malebana (Secretary): number (Sepedi and English) 079 226 7862
Solanga Milambo (Member): number (Tsonga, Venda and English) 072 865 7771
Tebogo Sephakgamela (Treasurer) 079 606 5646