Durban — The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it is imperative for the national Department of Basic Education to conduct a baseline assessment to determine a reasonable cap on the costs of basic school uniforms, considering the socio-economic circumstances of the country.
This comes as parents are busy with last-minute shopping as schools are set to open this week.
Acting communications co-ordinator of the SAHRC, Wisani Baloyi, said this was one of their key recommendations from the report issued last year which brought to light various challenges that impact the rights and well-being of learners across the nation.
Baloyi said this recommendation was aimed at ensuring that school uniforms were affordable, reducing imbalances among students and promoting a more inclusive educational environment.
The SAHRC also condemned the policing of learners’ hair, particularly in instances where certain practices unequally affect specific race or cultural groups.
“Hair policies that discriminate based on race, gender or cultural diversity are not only unjust but also undermine the principles of equality and dignity,” the SAHRC said.
The commission called all stakeholders, including the Department of Education, school governing bodies, educators and parents to collaborate in implementing the recommendations outlined in its report, as well as those issued by the Competition Commission.
“By working together, we can create a learning environment that upholds the rights, dignity and equality of all in our schools.
“The SAHRC remains committed to monitoring developments in this regard and encourages ongoing dialogue to address the broader challenges associated with school uniforms and appearance policies,” said the commission.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal said that it was ready for the 2024 academic year.
It said that it started its learner admission programme on April 12 last year and closed the registration period on September 30.
“Admissions were administered smoothly in 2023 and the province finished the year with no unplaced learner when the schools closed.
“However, there were a few cases the department received when schools had already closed.
“The districts with schools in demand have reported that they are attending to walk-ins since the office opened for the year 2024 and such learners will be placed when schools open for the academic year,” said the department.
The department’s HOD, Nkosinathi Ngcobo, said the number of unplaced pupils was not as high as the previous academic year. Only transfer cases backed by evidence would be attended to, he added.
“Parents whose learners still have not secured spaces at schools or have late applications are advised to visit their nearest Circuit Offices for placement.
“This is to ensure that schools concentrate on teaching and learning on the first day of the new academic year,” said Ngcobo.
Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said there was 100% delivery of learner and teacher support material in all schools in the province.
He said the recent storms and floods in the province caused severe damage to school infrastructure, with 59 schools in 9 of the 12 districts affected.
“The department has put in place various measures to ensure that affected schools are provided with interim measures which include mobile classrooms, mobile ablution facilities and dislodging of existing ablution facilities,” said Mahlambi.
Service providers to render these services have been appointed and they have commenced work.
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