We mark the 41st anniversary of the June 16 student uprising, the struggle for quality basic education continues.
The Department of Basic Education has been called on to defend the legitimate measures behind a bursary scheme aimed at increasing the number of well-qualified, indigenous language teachers, particularly in rural areas.
Represented by SECTION27, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (“CASAC”) has filed an application to intervene as amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) in a matter in the Pretoria High Court, initiated by Solidariteit Helpende Hand NPC (“Solidarity”).
Solidarity has challenged the selection criteria of the Fundza Lushaka bursary scheme on the basis that it unfairly discriminates on the grounds of race which in turn impacts on the constitutional right to further education in terms of section 29(1)(b) of the Constitution.
Solidarity alleges that this is done by giving preference to students who intend to specialize in an Indigenous African language in the foundation phase as well as favouring candidates who are from rural areas and wish to teach in rural areas.
In response to Solidarity’s application, the Department of Basic Education submits that the criteria used for the selection are fair and aimed at redressing past inequalities in line section (9)2 of the Constitution. They also argue that the selection criteria are aimed at training more teachers in indigenous African languages in line with the Department’s policies.
CASAC argues that the scheme is consistent with and gives effect to the right to basic education in section 29(1)(a) of the Constitution, as well as the right to receive basic education in the language of one’s choice in section 29(2) of the Constitution.
In this regard CASAC argues that these rights can only be realised if there are sufficient teachers to meet the demand for instruction in the indigenous African languages. CASAC also intends to clarify the interpretation of the equality clause of the Constitution, in arguing that the selection criteria do not constitute unfair discrimination.
The CASAC intervention therefore aims to advance the position that the Fundza Lushaka bursary scheme is consistent with the values in the Constitution, including the need to prioritise the best interests of the child.
It also aims to support the position of the state in the justification of the scheme as a progressive measure justified not only by policy but moreover its obligations in line with the right to basic education enshrined in the Constitution.
The matter will be heard on the 22nd and 23rd of June before Honourable Judge Makgoka in the North Gauteng High Court.
Issued by SECTION27