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Refereed articles

Defining the term basic education in the South African Constitution: An international law approach - p 162

This paper locates the term basic education in international law and recognises it as a term defined by the World Declaration on Education for All. The paper argues that the term basic education provided by the South Africa Constitution connotes the quality of education that the government should provide and not merely the provision of a compulsory number of years that a learner is supposed to attend school.

Whilst basic education for both children and adults is an unqualified human right in South Africa the problem is that the South African Constitution does not define the term basic education and the term has no definite meaning in national jurisprudence. It is not clear whether the term connotes mere school attendance for a specified number of years or the quality of education that the educational institutions should provide. Determining the scope and content of the term basic education in a country like South Africa where millions of people are still to receive a basic education is an important process that might help the government to delineate its obligations and to devise methods to ensure compliance with section 29 (1) (a) of the South African Constitution. Further, it might enable the public to mark out government's obligations and to identify its violations and then demand compliance. This paper locates the term basic education in international law and recognises it as a term defined by the World Declaration on Education for All. The paper argues that the term basic education provided by the South Africa Constitution connotes the quality of education that the government should provide and not merely the provision of a compulsory number of years that a learner is supposed to attend school.

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