The South African Human Rights Commission: briefing

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


12 August 2003

Mr D Kgware ANC (Northern Cape)

Documents handed out:
Summary of the 4th Economic and Social Rights Report 2000/ 02 chapter on Education.

The Committee expressed its pleasure at meeting with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and reiterated their desire for closer future co-operation. The SAHRC listed its poor capacity and funding deficit as well as the difficulty in obtaining quality information as key challenges to its ability to analyse and investigate information.

The Commission presented the 4th Economic and Social Rights Report 2000/ 02 chapter on Education. Mr T Thipanyane, Head of Research and Documentation at the SAHRC, said the racial divide in quality and access to education was still too large.

Ms R Mashangoane ANC (Limpopo) asked whether the Commission had considered alternative methods of information gathering.

Mr T Thipanyane, Head of Research and Documentation at the SAHRC, said the Commission spent almost R97 million trying to improve the protocols. He said the protocols were both time consuming and expensive and he hoped state bodies would freely volunteer the required information in future. They spent far too much time gathering information and not enough time on its analysis.

Ms M Themba ANC (Mpumalanga) asked what monitoring mechanisms were in place to ensure the implementation of SAHRC recommendations.

Mr Thipanyane said the SAHRC should do more to ensure its recommendations weree implemented. Civil society, parliament and other groups should use SAHRC reports to keep state organs accountable.

Ms M Themba asked about the Commission's findings on gender equality.

Mr T Thipanyane said there is very little information available on gender equality but a report would be forthcoming later this year.

Mr J Horne NNP (Northern Cape) asked for clarity on the Northern Cape's projected expenditure contained in the Commission's report.

Mr T Thipanyane said the requested figures were not forthcoming from the Northern Cape authorities. It could be misleading to rely on national figures as a detailed breakdown of resources allocation was not always possible.

Mr J Horne asked the Commission's view on the fact that many township schoolteachers sent their children to Module C schools.

Mr T Thipanyane said he believed this matter required more urgent attention. In the USA, black students were bussed into former white schools to effect desegregation but no such urgent action was being considered in South Africa.

Mr V Shabalala, an SAHRC Researcher, said South African parents sending their children to private schools should be aware of the potential consequences of not paying the required fees. No child could legally be evicted from a public school for not being able to pay.

Mr Kgware asked whether illiteracy was decreasing, particularly among rural women.

Mr T Thipanyane said according to the recent census, illiteracy is still a serious problem but improvements were being made.

Ms Themba said the report was silent on sexual abuse and sexually inappropriate behavior in schools.

Mr T Thipanyane said this definitely impacted on the equal accessibility of education. He said South Africa was still busy exploring the consequences of poverty, hunger, vast distances to schools etc., on the universal right to education.

Mr T Thipanyane said the SAHRC has limited capacity. They didn't even have offices in the North West, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces.

Ms J Cohen, Public Relations Officer of the SAHRC, said the production of reports was just one of the many activities of the SAHRC. They were also involved in many individual legal cases and their Education and Training department conducted training on anti-racism. Much of their work was of a sensitive nature and was not freely publicised, such as research into initiation schools. A meeting with traditional leaders was
scheduled for later this year.

The meeting was adjourned.


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