The majority of pupils from international migrant communities are being deprived of their right to basic education as they are allegedly excluded from government schools.
The African Diaspora Forum (ADF) chairperson, Marc Gbaffou, said it was a major concern that an overwhelming number of pupils from their communities struggled to attend school at the beginning of each year. “We understand that the department’s official data shows that 9 000 children are still out of school in Gauteng,” he said, demanding an explanation from Gauteng MEC of education Panyaza Lesufi to clarify whether the figure includes out-of-school foreign pupils.
Gbaffou added that, according to its reports, foreign children faced several barriers to education. “Undocumented children, asylum-seeker children with expired permits, children on visitor’s visas and potentially stateless children are being denied admission to schools based on their documentation status or that of their parents,” he said.
“Undocumented foreign pupils are excluded from schools into which they were previously admitted, they are not given their national senior certificate results or certificates despite writing the exams last year.”
Documented foreign pupils were unable to attend school because they were unable to secure a study visa without proof of medical aid. Furthermore, foreign pupils on waiting lists in public schools were continuously pushed to the back of the lists, despite adequate documentation, and their parents were made to pay admission fees at no-fee schools in order to secure places for their children.
“While we understand the pressure that the department is under in the current admission period, we request an undertaking by the department to ensure that its efforts include foreign children, who form one of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in the country,” said Gbaffou .
“We note that the right to a basic education in section 29(1) (a) of the constitution extends to everyone and that all children, including non-South African ones, should be given the special protection of that section and of the rights of children in section 28.”
The organisation has written to the MEC and Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, requesting a meeting to discuss what they believe are the ongoing infringements of the rights of migrant children in Gauteng.