AbstractThe right to basic education in South Africa
Education is most effective within a culture of human rights. The right to education is one of the internationally recognised fundamental rights of a child.
In this article the right to education is discussed against the background of the development of children’s rights since 1924. Special attention is given to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, consisting of internationally acceptable principles and minimum standards for education and the general welfare of children.
In this article “basic education” is first defined, followed by a clarification of the international principle of “free education”. Although free education is not guaranteed by the South African Constitution, everyone has the constitutional right (as well as the obligation) to receive basic education.
Another prominent aspect of the article is a discussion of the provision of basic education in the learner’s mother tongue, as well as the extent of limitations to the freedom of choice of the language of instruction. This right of all people in the diverse South African society is weighed up against other constitutional principles such as reasonableness, practicability and affirmative action. What must be kept in mind as well, is that the understanding of the Bill of Rights is still in a developmental phase and subject to much interpretation, especially by the Constitutional Court.
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