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MEDIA STATEMENT: SAHRC Launches the Right to Read and Write Campaign on Wednesday 8th September 2021

ATT: Editors and Reporters
7 September 2021

The South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission) will launch a position paper and campaign on the Right to Read and Write on 8th September at the Constitutional Court (Braamfontein). This paper defines the core necessary conditions as well as the required outcomes or minimum standards of the right to read and write, and outlines what it means to read for meaning.

One of the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution is that “Everyone has the right to a basic education”, per Section 29(1)(a) of the Bill of Rights. This right is a special right in the Constitution and different from many others since it is ‘immediately realizable’, which means that there is no inherent qualification to the right to a basic education.

The ability to read and write, is one of the most important minimum ‘core’ outcomes with respect to the right to a basic education. These fundamental skills are how the constitutional promise to the right to a basic education is fulfilled. Unless and until a child is educated to the requisite minimum level, the constitutional promise remains fundamentally unfulfilled.

For this reason, the Commission established a Section 11 Committee on the Right to Read and Write, comprising prominent South African experts, to advise the Commission on the minimum reading norms and what it means to ‘read for meaning’.
This Committee consisted of educational, literacy, language, disability, economic and constitutional law experts. The Committee has prepared a document which uses a framework adapted from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) - an international
assessment and research project designed to measure reading achievement.

The position paper prepared in collaboration with the Commission contains a clearly articulated and measurable definition of what it means to read and write, with understanding, by the age of ten - and the minimum requirements to achieve this goal.

The launch will be held at the foyer of the Constitutional Court, on Wednesday the 8th September 2021, from 10:00 AM to 14:00 PM. Due to COVID-19 limitations in place, the Commission will host a hybrid event, with participants beyond the limited number of individuals permitted at the Constitutional Court being able to follow proceedings via the Commission’s website, social media pages and the following link.


Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission
Gushwell Brooks – Communications Co-ordinator Tel: 082 645 8573 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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