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Primary Education


The District Attorney's Office files a lawsuit to force full-time school attendance

Regulations that restrict some children from attending school every day of the week are illegal because they unjustifiably limit a child's right to basic education, the best interests of the child, and equality.

This submission was made by the DA in an action filed before the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday, in which it seeks to compel schools to open fully and immediately.

According to the party, more than 80% of South African schools continue to operate on a rotational basis, with each child attending school half the time, on alternate days or weeks.

According to the DA, almost 80% of pupils are being deprived half of their education under the guise that this is advantageous to them.

At the moment, children in more affluent elementary schools can attend school every day. Children in disadvantaged elementary schools may only attend school every other day or every second week.

John Steenhuisen, federal head of the DA

The application is divided into two sections, the first of which will be heard urgently on February 8.

Part A of the DA's application requests the court to declare that, until part B of the case is resolved, primary and secondary schools must continue to impose social separation to the best of their abilities, without reducing the number of students they educate or changing school days and hours.

Part B requests that the court evaluate and overturn regulations that make it impossible for elementary schools to fulfill the right to a basic education.

The regulations that the party is challenging state that a primary school cannot revert to traditional attendance if it cannot guarantee that students remain 1m apart, and 1.5m apart in the case of high schools.

In an affidavit filed with the court on Wednesday, DA federal leader John Steenhuisen stated that the application's question was whether all children should receive the basic education promised by the constitution.

"At the moment, pupils in wealthier primary schools can attend school every day." Children in disadvantaged elementary schools may only attend school every other day or every second week.

This is an obvious breach of the constitutional rights of children. "It will stifle their learning, possibly forever," he predicted.

According to Steenhuisen, the purpose offered for social distance in schools was to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

He stated that preventing children from attending school will not achieve this purpose.

"Enabling children to return to school will not considerably, if at all, enhance the chance of Covid-19 spreading." There are various ways to restrict the spread of Covid-19 without interfering with children's education."

He said that the infringement of children's rights was disproportionate to any potential limit on the spread of Covid-19.

"The majority of all primary schools are unable to accommodate all students while adhering to the 1m limit."

He stated that this was true to a greater extent for high school requirements.

According to Steenhuisen, the laws are illegal since they deny children half of the time they would otherwise spend in school.

According to him, professional research reveals that absence from school has serious and long-term consequences for children's education and development.

He claimed that in July of last year, the government's own ministerial advisory council advised that any limited benefit of reducing schooling was unjustifiable.

Expert evidence, according to Steenhuisen, demonstrated the very substantial detrimental impacts of denying children access to education.

"It comes as no surprise that prohibiting children from attending school diminishes their ability to learn in both the short and long term." It also has a significant negative impact on children's mental health."

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DA District Attorney 's Office South African


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