Court bid to secure futures for millions of kids

THERE are so many children without access to early childhood development programmes that if they started a human chain in Cape Town it would snake to Johannesburg and back.

This point was argued by Advocate Paul Hoffman, SC, in the Cape Town High Court yesterday.

Hoffman is acting for the Progressive Principals’ Association and educationalist Jean Pease, who have taken the government to court for its failure to provide constitutionally compliant basic education to the masses on a reasonable and non-discriminatory basis.

They list several other problems, including the failure:

  • To deliver textbooks and education material on time;
  • To improve access to mother tongue education, and;
  • To provide proper training and support to professionalise teachers.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini have been included in the case.

Hoffman said 3.2 million children under five not exposed to early childhood development programmes were being severely prejudiced. “These programmes are crucial for children and better than being “inside a blanket on someone’s back”.

Education spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said the case was unfortunate as all the issues were being addressed.

The educators, mainly from underprivileged schools, want Judge Nathan Erasmus to order the government to draw up a plan setting out steps to address these issues.

The case continues. – Nashira Davids

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