Media alert: EE and EELC present to United Nations Committee, as SA’s record on education is tested

Home | Media alert: EE and EELC present to United Nations Committee, as SA’s record on education is tested

1 October 2018

Media alert: Today EE and EELC present to UN Committee, as SA’s record on education is tested

Today, Equal Education (EE) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) will be among a number of local and international NGOs presenting on South Africa’s human rights record before the Geneva-based UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This follows South Africa’s ratification of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights in 2015, whereby our government consented to being bound by the provisions of the Covenant, and to regularly reporting on progress toward its full implementation.

As part of its obligations, South Africa submitted its first country report in 2017, which  explains the steps it has taken toward implementing the Covenant on key aspects such as the rights to housing, health, social security and education. The Committee is responsible for monitoring individual countries’ progress, and on 2 October and 3 October will be reviewing South Africa’s report for the first time. The Committee will publish its  recommendations based on the country report and the presentations.

NGOs have been encouraged to participate in this process in a number of ways, which include submitting “parallel” reports on their experiences of the state of socio-economic rights in South Africa, and are invited to make presentations on these at the NGO hearings today. EE and EELC will be presenting to the Committee via satellite video link, and a copy of our full report is accessible here.

EE and EELC will be highlighting crucial issues affecting basic education in South Africa, which include the vulnerability of undocumented learners, the state of school infrastructure and scholar transport across the country, the lack of a menstrual hygiene policy for learners, and school fees as barriers to education. EE and EELC are also expressing our concern to the Committee over South Africa’s declaration when it ratified the Covenant, that the provision of basic education is subject to progressive realisation, within available resources – which goes against its Constitutional obligation to immediately realise the right to basic education in South Africa.

Finally, EE and EELC recommend that an adequate legal framework should be put in place to guard against the unjustified handing over of public school governance to private entities, and to hold private actors in education accountable to human rights standards.

The Committee’s first review of South Africa marks an important step in holding the State accountable for the way in which socio-economic rights are being realised in South Africa.

The NGO hearings that are at 10am today, as well as the Committee’s meetings with government representatives over the course of this week, can be followed via live stream here.  

For further media comment:

Equal Education:

Hopolang Selebalo (Co-Head of Research)

Roné McFarlane (Co-Head of Research)

Equal Education Law Centre:

Mbekezeli Benjamin

Demichelle Petherbridge

Tel: 021 461 1421