Constitutional Education

The FHR’s mission is to address inequality and to promote and entrench human rights values. Using the Constitution as a tool, the FHR seeks to address the legacy of apartheid, supporting transformation and building a human rights culture. Constitutional education is therefore about empowerment, raising awareness, and changing people’s mindsets, perceptions and attitudes. In its constitutional education activities, the FHR seeks to overcome the injustices of the past by empowering vulnerable groups to access their rights, which will improve the quality of peoples’ lives and free the potential of each person.

The FHR has a particular focus on vulnerable groups in South Africa, which include, but are not limited to, children, women, the LGBTI+ people, people and communities affected by poverty, people with disabilities and migrant communities.

Why do we raise awareness of the Constitution and Bill of Rights?

South Africa’s constitutional project was designed to bring about a fundamental transformation in South African society. Central to this was the Bill of Rights, which contains rights that no South African – particularly South Africans of color – had protected prior to 1994. Over the subsequent 24 years, South African society has seen these rights used to assist and protect various communities. However, recent research conducted by the FHR (Democracy Challenged: South Africa’s Largest Attitudinal Survey on the Constitution 2018) has revealed that only slightly more than half of adult South Africans have even heard of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights – and the depth of this knowledge is questionable. This lack of knowledge increases the vulnerability of vulnerable groups who, as a result, do not know when their rights are being violated. As has been well documented, an inability to claim rights significantly inhibits the development of individuals and communities.

Who is the targeted audience?

The Foundation for Human Rights has a particular focus on ensuring that vulnerable groups are able to access their rights, in the belief that this will assist in the development of these groups. In line with this aim, the constitutional education activities target learners and vulnerable groups.

The focus on high school learners goes beyond the focus on vulnerable groups, and plays a role in the FHR’s attempts to create a human rights-based culture in South Africa. By providing minors with knowledge of their rights, the foundation for a life-long understanding of human rights, and knowledge of how to access these rights, is laid. Beyond this, high school learners offer a gateway to their families, often sharing elements that they have learnt at school with their siblings and parents, further increasing the footprint of the project and knowledge of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

What do we do as part of our constitutional education activities?

  • We make the Constitution accessible and relevant to the people
  • We teach school learners about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
  • We reach out to communities in order to educate them about their rights as enshrined in the Constitution
  • We develop materials and tools which help teachers and the general public to better understand what our Constitution is about and why it is important
  • We collect judgments and other materials to make it easier for everyone to access information on their rights.

Who are our partners?

Although we have a wide range of expert staff members, we often work together with our civil society partners in the human rights sector, Chapter 9 institutions and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD) to reach marginalized and vulnerable groups in both rural and urban areas. We have previously worked with the following partners: the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria; South African Human Rights Commission; National School of Government; Gauteng Department of Education; to name a few.

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