Constitutional education for high schools
In late 2011, a group of Constitutional Court clerks began to run constitutional education workshops for high school learners. This project arose out of a recognition that the future of South Africa’s constitutional democracy depends on an understanding and widespread appreciation of the Constitution, its purpose and value, which are lacking among the youth and other sectors of South African society.
Early in 2012, the project was adopted by the Constitutional Court Trust and 30 workshops have been run since then, allowing nearly 1500 learners and over 50 teachers an introduction to the Bill of Rights and the work of the Constitutional Court. Particular highlights include:
- A Human Rights Day event, which was attended by 200 learners from 4 schools;
- An Arts and Justice weekend, which culminated in a performance by the learners;
- The involvement of a large number of legal professionals as facilitators in the weekend workshops;
- The launch of a project involving Wits students, which will give the workshop at schools in the Johannesburg area during the week.
The bedrock of this project is the workshops which are run on Saturdays. These are staffed by volunteers from the legal community – clerks, attorneys, advocates and university students. These workshops have been overwhelmingly positively received by the schools which have attended. The skills that the learners obtain through the workshops are integral to their participation in South Africa’s democracy. The workshop places particular emphasis upon rights that are likely to be directly relevant to the learners, including, but not limited to, the right to freedom and security of the person, the right to education, the right to equality and the right to life.
The teaching methods used are designed to assist the learners in developing skills that will allow them to exercise their rights, and involve allowing the learners the space to argue and assert their rights, in the form of a mini-Court hearing, numerous small group discussion sessions and by highlighting rights violations in practical examples provided by the facilitator.
The focus of the Saturday schools’ project has been schools that would otherwise not be able to visit the Constitutional Court. The schools are provided with transport and lunch.
You can follow the project on Facebook.
To register a school to participate in one of the Saturday workshops please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The project is generously funded by the Millennium Trust.
On 1 September 2012, this project migrated to the Constitution Hill.