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SAHRC: COVID-19 has brought sharp focus on children’s right to education

While many are strongly opposed to children returning to the classroom, the commission supports Unicef’s position that children should return to school as soon as possible.

Picture: @ECDOEZA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus a range of complex issues relating to the rights of children to education.

While many are strongly opposed to children returning to the classroom, the commission supports Unicef’s position that children should return to school as soon as possible.

That view is based on evidence suggesting that not being in school would cause more harm to children.

The Human Rights Commission said by the end of this month, learners would've lost between 20% and 50% of scheduled school days.

It's also considered the social, economic and health impact of the COVID-19 lockdown, such as an increase in hunger and malnutrition as many poor children rely on school meals.

The pandemic is also having a devastating impact on education outcomes as research predicts increases in inequality, since poorer pupils are least able to continue lessons from home.

The commission's electronic survey of public schools received responses from almost 4,500 schools across the country.

About nine in 10 schools reported all pupils and staff wore masks.

More than 90% of schools in Gauteng, the Northern Cape and the Western Cape reported having running water, while only 47% of schools in the Eastern Cape confirmed they had access.

Almost 100% of responding schools reported having screening processes in place with trained staff responsible for these operations.

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