29 June 2018 Photo Stephen Collett
Learners at youth dialogue encouraged to know their human rights
learners presented their insights on human rights issues.


Youth Day was celebrated on 16 June 2018, and as part of the celebrations, the Free State Department of Education, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, and the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State (UFS) presented a learner dialogue for 160 Representative Council of Learners from Wepener, Dewetsdorp, Ladybrand, Thaba Nchu, Botshabelo and Bloemfontein to address the challenges they face at their schools and in the country at large. The dialogue took place on 19 June 2018 at the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. 

The Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof John Mubangizi, on welcoming the learners, teachers and representatives of the Department of Education and other guests said: “It is a great honour to have future leaders here, and possible future students of the UFS. I invite you to come and study in the Faculty of Law and look forward to welcoming some of you in the near future.”

Youth encouraged to participate positively
The focus of the dialogue was on children’s rights, their needs and vulnerabilities, and their right to participate in all matters that concern them. It was also a platform for the learners to express what they saw as important challenges, how they are affected, and possible solutions. The Director of the Free State Centre for Human Rights, Prof Danie Brand, led an interactive session with learners, discussing basic human rights as contained in the South African Constitution.
 
“Human rights are what you are born with and do not need to be negotiated. These are rights such as the right to housing, food, education and healthcare,” he said. 

Outcomes of dialogue could influence policy decisions
The one-day dialogue session had learners from different schools interacting with each other. They presented their final deliberations to the officials present, including the District Director of the Department of Education, Mr December Moloi, Prof Brand, Prof Mubangizi, senior lecturer in Public Law at UFS, Dr Mariette Reyneke, and others. Mr Moloi encouraged learners to continue to set a good example to their peers amid challenges they faced at schools, such as gangsterism. “The ideas you share today are important to the department, because these will help create solutions to some of the problems we face in schools and could inform future education policy formation,” he said.

The event was sponsored by Old Mutual which gave the learners a presentation on life skills, such as financial management and budgeting, to encourage them to manage their money in a responsible way as future leaders, and to support their parents’ efforts at providing for them and their education.