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Education NGOs condemn Operation Dudula’s 'campaign to remove migrant children from schools'

Operation Dudula protest at Park Station in Johannesburg. File image.
Operation Dudula protest at Park Station in Johannesburg. File image.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Operation Dudula is campaigning to remove migrant children from schools in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, activist groups advocating for quality and equality in South Africa’s education system said on Monday, adding that the move was dangerous.

Operation Dudula’s national secretary Zandile Dabula has been approached for comment. This article will be updated when she responds.

In a joint statement, Equal Education (EE) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) expressed dismay after receiving reports that the anti-illegal immigrant group was targeting schools in Diepsloot.

“Information received shows that the Diepsloot branch of Operation Dudula has circulated a message with xenophobic undertones on social media platforms. The message implied that migrant children were being unfairly placed in public schools at the expense of South African children,” said the organisations.

They said the messages were dangerous and incited a culture of thinking that fuels xenophobia. “This is visible in the worrying comments that were made on Equal Education Law Centre’s social media post that was meant to empower undocumented learners.”

The organisations said adults marching through the streets, entering school premises and classrooms, and asking for innocent children to be removed from school based on their nationality, is an all-time low for our country

“Actions of this nature not only pit nationals against migrant children and foster othering, but they also amount to bullying and intimidation. We strongly condemn this thinking and behaviour and stand firmly in solidarity with all migrant children.”

The EE and EELC said the right to basic education is a human right that is extended to all who live in SA. This means that all children in the country, regardless of where they come from and what their documentation status is, have an equal right to education.

“Operation Dudula’s ideas — whether carried out or not — support and promote discrimination and violence and foster an atmosphere in which xenophobia can flourish. The hostile environment that it creates also means that migrant children — and even other children who are at risk of discrimination — will live and learn in fear.”

The groups urgently called the department of basic education to publicly condemn Operation Dudula’s campaigns and to reiterate the right of migrant children, regardless of their documentation status, to access schooling in SA.


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