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Birth Certificates and Access to Education, 27 February 2019

Birth Certificates and Access to Education, 27 February 2019

Despite the Constitutional guarantee that all children residing in South Africa have a right to education, many undocumented children are being refused permission to attend schools because they do not have a birth certificate. This Roundtable which was co-hosted between the CPLO and the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa was addressed by Ms Sindi Moyo, an advocacy officer at the Scalabrini Centre, and Ms Giulia Treves, manager at Lawrence House. The discussion not only explored the difficulty faced by the children of migrants and refugees to access education due to a lack of documentation, but also the avenues for advocacy to address the situation. One of the most salient points that Ms Moyo made was that while the Constitution grants a right of all children to receive a basic education, immigration legislation makes it illegal for undocumented children to exercise that right. Participants asked why the state would punish the child if the parents are undocumented and noted that the state should process the birth registration (so that the child can access services). Ms Treves provided some practical examples of how Lawrence House, which specialises in the care and protection of unaccompanied foreign minors and refugee children, had to ensure that the children in their care receive their education.

L-R: Fr Peter-John Pearson (Director, CPLO); Ms Sindi; Ms Giulia Treves; and Fr Filippo Ferraro (Executive Director, SIHMA)