JOHANNESBURG – The South African government will allow undocumented children – including undocumented migrants classified as “illegal aliens”, to register and sit for the 2019 National Senior Certificate, also known as Matric examinations.
A letter signed by Bheki Ngubane, the Chief Director Examinations and Assessment at the Gauteng Provincial Department of Basic Education, gives education authorities in the province instructions to provisionally register undocumented children of both South Africans and migrants and allow them to sit for this year’s Matric examinations, on condition that they sign a declaration indicating they would submit the required documents at a later stage.
“…Being mindful of the fact that there are learners in Grade 12 without the required documentations, the Chief Directorate Examinations and Assessment has resolved to provisionally register undocumented immigrant learners and South African learners without identity documents to write the 2019 National Senior Certificate examinations,” reads part of the letter dated May 21, addressed to the chief director head office, district directors, principals of secondary schools, Grade 12 teachers and learners.
“Accordingly, the affected candidates must be allowed to register for 2019 NSC examinations provided that they sign the attached declaration form committing themselves to submit the outstanding documents prior to the finalization of the registration process.
“It should be noted that the National Certificate (qualification) will not be issued to them until the outstanding documents have been submitted. The Gauteng department of education will not be held responsible for learners failing to submit the required documents.”
The signed declaration form should be submitted at the district examinations section on August 12 this year.
The African Diaspora Forum, whose push led to the latest concession, this week accused government’s latest move as “an insult” to the negotiations and discussions the migrants’ rights organization had with the department of education.
“This is not in the spirit and letter of the law, including the South African Constitution,” said ADF executive chairperson, Dr Vusumuzi Sibanda.
“The Convention on the Rights of the Children which RSA ratifies does not lay down any conditions for acceptance of learners or writing such exams or attending school. Article 3 states that in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary concern.
“Article 22 is clear about the rights of children seeking refugee accompanied or unaccompanied that such children must receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance in the enjoyment of applicable rights.”
Dr Sibanda also argued on Article 28, which states that all state parties should recognize the right of the child to education, and with the view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity and further states free and compulsory primary education.
“The department of education is violating this and section 29 of the RSA constitution to the right to education,” added Dr Sibanda.
“We cannot therefore tolerate nor find peace in failure to uphold the laws that should bind every person or institution including those making such policies that violate the rights of children. The DBE needs to re-align quickly its policies to conform to the RSA Constitution as well as the convention on the rights of the child as it ratified this convention.”