Concern over Vuwani children being kept from attending school

2017-09-06 20:03
School that was set alight during protests in Vuwani, Limpopo. (News24 Correspondent, File 2016)

School that was set alight during protests in Vuwani, Limpopo. (News24 Correspondent, File 2016)

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Cape Town - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said on Wednesday that it was deeply concerned by reports that schools were shut down in Vuwani, Limpopo, after a resurgence of violent protests.

Residents shut down the area as part of a long-standing feud with the Municipal Demarcation Board.

Schools were included in the shutdown.

Last year, at least 29 schools were either torched or vandalised during violent protests over demarcation.

Around 10 200 pupils were affected.

2016: Let the schools burn, let them burn! - Vuwani resident

The SAHRC said it specifically raised the issue of children being prevented from attending school at the time.

It convened a national investigative hearing in June 2016.

Right to education undermined

The commission stated in its final hearing report that communities, public officials and citizens should act together to ensure children attended school.

SAHRC education commissioner Andre Gaum said everyone had a right to peaceful protest.

"While protesters are free to advance their interests through protest action, preventing access to schools undermines the right to education," he said.

The commission issued several recommendations to different departments at the time to prevent exclusion from reoccurring.

These included an early warning system to identify and resolve matters before they affected schools and educating people about the duty to protect the interests of pupils.

It also recommended the establishment of an interdepartmental national public protest response team, which it would bring to the attention of the Presidency.

The commission had since launched child-friendly spaces at its nine provincial offices.

It invited pupils and other children to make use of its procedures to report complaints of human rights abuses.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  protests  |  education

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