Equal Education condemns removing of migrant children at schools by Operation Dudula



Published Feb 7, 2023


Johannesburg - The Equal Education (EE) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) said they were disturbed by the reports they received stating that Operation Dudula has launched a campaign to remove migrant children from schools in Diepsloot, Johannesburg.

This comes after foreign nationals in Diepsloot were alerted to a message with xenophobic undertones making rounds on social media platforms.

According to the education organisations, the message was dangerous and incited a culture of thinking that fuels xenophobia.

“We strongly condemn this thinking and behaviour and stand firmly in solidarity with all migrant children. We also condemn Operation Dudula's behaviour that creates a culture of xenophobia in schools by engaging in such actions, as well as any potential spillover effects,” it said.

EE described the marching of adults on the streets, entering school premises and classrooms, and asking for innocent children to be removed from school based on their nationality as an all-time low for the country.

“Schools already face challenges in preventing discrimination against vulnerable learners, fostering diversity and inclusivity, and providing a secure learning environment for all children.

“Operation Dudula ideas, whether they are carried out or not, support and promote discrimination and violence and foster an atmosphere in which xenophobia can flourish,” it said.

EE added that migrants would learn and live in fear of a hostile environment.

It indicated that the right to basic education was a human right meant for all who live in South Africa.

“This means that all children in South Africa, regardless of where they come from and what their documentation status is, have an equal right to education.

“Interference with the enjoyment of this right by Operation Dudula must be viewed in this context: not only do their actions constitute bullying and intimidation, but they also constitute an outright violation of these learners’ right to basic education, which is illegal and unlawful,” it said.

Furthermore, EE called on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to intervene and stabilise the situation.

It outlined the following for the DBE’s attention:

- Publicly condemn Operation Dudula’s call and reiterate the right of migrant children, regardless of their documentation status, to access schooling in South Africa.

- Ensure that appropriate safety measures are put in place in schools that are at risk of intimidation by Operation Dudula as well as schools that migrant children are placed back into.

- Ensure that any children who may be removed from school as a result of any actions by Operation Dudula are put back in school.

- Re-release Circular 1 of 2020 regarding the right of undocumented learners to education.

- Ensure that all remaining unplaced learners in Gauteng are placed in schools.

- Liaise with the South African Police Services and National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that the campaign is investigated and where necessary, members of Operation Dudula are prosecuted.

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