A legal analysis of the constitutional right to basic education in Zimbabwe and South Africa
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The year 1990 was a momentous year with world countries agreeing for the first time, through the World Declaration on Education for All, 1990, (World Declaration) that basic education was the type of education which would empower human beings, assist countries to eradicate poverty and ensure a decent and fulfilled life for everyone. Through the World Declaration, nations committed to the education for all goal and built upon the foundations laid by the provisions of earlier international instruments. In Africa, the obligation to provide basic education was translated into an international obligation by the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, 1990 (African Charter). Whilst the World Declaration introduced the notion of basic education and defined the term, the African Charter provided for free and compulsory basic education. However, no international instrument followed to specify the scope and content of the right to basic education. Whereas Zimbabwe as well as South Africa also made constitutional and international commitments to provide basic education they also similarly do not have legislative documents which provide for its scope and content. In the absence of both international and national documents providing for the scope and content of a right to basic education, Zimbabwe and South Africa similarly continue to violate the right to basic education. In both countries, children are taught by unqualified teachers, they lack updated and adequate text books, well-equipped libraries and laboratories. Children lack schools to attend, pens to write with and books to write on. Children pay school fees, walk long distances to school and there is no definition of basic education or clarity on the number of years children must attend school to acquire it. Employing a doctrinal research method and using a human rights based approach which draws from international law this dissertation understood the similar challenges and commitments shared by Zimbabwe and South Africa and sought to provide the scope and content of the right to basic education for both countries. Whilst the lack of jurisprudence and the fact that the right to basic education is still a relatively new research area in both countries posed as a challenge to the doctrinal method, the conclusion was that, the right to basic education in both Zimbabwe and South Africa comprises of six components. The six components of the right to basic education were suggested in equal importance as follows; the term basic education as defined by the World Declaration refers to the quality of education which must be provided to learners; the right to basic education includes primary and secondary school attendance; the right to basic education includes compulsory and free attendance at both primary and secondary schooling levels; the right to basic education is an unqualified right in both Zimbabwe and South Africa; the right to basic education is a minimum core content of the right to education in both Zimbabwe and South Africa and the right to basic education means the opportunity must be available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable.
Additional Citation InformationSimbo, C. (2019). A legal analysis of the constitutional right to basic education in Zimbabwe and South Africa (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Zimbabwe, Harare.