On 26 July 2019, Khulumani Support Group attended the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR)’s launch of the #KeepItConstitutional Animation Series at the Constitutional Court.
The series uses animated characters to educate high school learners about constitutional rights. Hot topic issues, from land and education, to religious and political rights, are all explained in relation to the law, using animated characters created in accordance with learner input. The videos are available in isiZulu, SeSotho, English and Afrikaans, and can also be watched with subtitles for the hard of hearing. Short interviews with human rights activists, experts, and ordinary people affected by the law are included.
The twenty episodes, ranging in length from 1.5 to 4 minutes long, are intended for eventual incorporation in the school curriculum. They are available on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and can also be downloaded from the #KeepItConstitutional website, https://www.keepitconstitutional.co.za, together with material for educators to use in presenting the videos. In part, the existing program was developed by the design, product and content agency, BCKRDS (pronounced Back Roads). At the launch on Friday, Samu Belle of BCKRDS provided a demonstration of the website to launch attendees, including the WhatsApp number and email address for queries about the Constitution, and the “Take Action” section, which provides crucial contact details for organisations assisting those whose rights have been violated.
Launch attendees also heard about the process of developing the series. It occurred in response to two FHR surveys, in 2011 and 2017, which examined attitudes towards and understanding of the Constitution in South African households. Findings such as that learners are a key source of information about the Constitution for their parents, informed developers’ approach. Speakers on the development process included Nick Cloete of Mind’s Eye Creative, which developed the animation, Yasmin Sooka, Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights, and Sarah Motha, also of the Foundation for Human Rights. Remarks were made by Raul de Luzenberger, Deputy Ambassador of the European Union, which funded the project, and HRC Commissioner Adv Mohamed Shafie Ameermia. A range of illuminating and enthusiastic insights were also provided by Cedric Ranchor of the Department of Basic Education, Nathalie Vereen of the National Treasury, Reuben Phasha, Heritage, Education & Tourism Manager at Constitution Hill, and John Jeffrey of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, who provided the keynote speech.
A highlight of the launch was the performance of a poem by learners from Athlone Girls High School. The pupils were engaged by Sarah Motha and shared their opinions on the issues covered by the Constitution, including race and gender-based disparities, and common social attitudes. Learners from other schools, including Diepsloot Secondary 3, and Eketsang High School, were also in attendance. Programme Director Gcina Mhlope referred to the learners as the “VIPs” of the event, emphasizing their importance as the future of South Africa, who will play the critical role of bringing an understanding of constitutional rights into their homes, thus producing, as it is hoped, a formative effect on South African public life.
Khulumani looks forward to enabling activists linked to Khulumani to offer facilitated workshops to learners in secondary schools across our provinces in its capacity as a member of the Working Group on Constitutional and Human Rights, hosted by the Foundation for Human Rights.