The right to basic education : what about farm school learners?
Tshabalala, Moloadi Johannes
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the challenges faced by farm schools in exercising the right to basic education. In doing so, also to determine possible reasons behind learners' drop-out rate at farm schools. This stUdy was prompted by political changes, which took place after the democratic elections of April 1994, impacting on the provisioning of education in South Africa. The South African education system and its institutions were confronted by many laws and policies, including the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 (84/1996), the National Education Policy Act 27 of 1996 (27/1996) and specific obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Through literature and empirical studies it was found that the State's commitment to social justice, especially to education, remains unfulfilled for large numbers of children, youths and adults living in rural areas. Literature revealed that the South African government is failing to protect the right to a primary education for learners living on commercial farms by neither ensuring their access to farm school, nor maintaining the adequacy of learning conditions at these schools. The research findings revealed that poverty resulting from unemployment or low income on the farms increases the need for teenagers to be in paid employment in the evenings or at the weekend, increasing absenteeism and ultimately resulting in learners dropping out, and an increase in child-labour. The empirical method, using questionnaires, was successful in obtaining information about what challenges are faced by farm schools in exercising the right to basic education and the reasons behind farm school learners dropping-out. It also established how participants felt and thought about their experiences and perceptions on the challenges confronting the right to basic education as well as the reasons behind farm school learners dropping out. The study established that if the State could respect and fulfil economic and social rights of the farm sChool community, including the right to basic education, by eradicating measures that deny the enjoyment of the right to education as seen at the farm schools, great progress and sustainability as far as education is concerned could be achieved by these schools. A number or recommendations were made with regard to the research on findings for the Sedibeng-West District (08).
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