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Current projects

Project 28: Promoting children's socio-economic rights

Project 28 is a rights-based project that focuses on promoting the realisation of children’s socio-economic rights in South Africa. The project aims to seek clarity on the meaning of children’s socio-economic rights, particularly regarding the nature and extent of the government’s obligations to children.

The meaning of children's socio-economic rights, which appear in Section 28 of the Bill of Rights, has become a hot topic for debate and discussion in South Africa. Child rights advocactes interpret their inclusion in the Constitution − separate to everyone else's socio-economic rights − to mean that all children are entitled to a basic package of benefits and services, and that these should be prioritised by the government. Such a package includes basic health care services, basic nutrition, shelter and social services. Section 29 in the Constitution also guarantees every child the right to basic education.

Project 28 has adopted three methods to further this debate and ultimately to promote an approach that prioritises children:

1.  Research and writing

The project since 2004 has been collating reviews of all existing literature on children's socio-economic rights from national and international law. This has enabled the production of quality rights analysis papers and products to promote an understanding of the rights in Section 28, and the related obligations on society, and specifically on government. An example of such products is the eight conference papers presented by the Institute at the 2005 Fourth World Congress on Family Law and Children's Rights. Project 28 staff were instrumental in supporting staff from various projects to write these. The papers (linked below) provided analyses of service delivery to children from a rights perspective.

2.  Training

Child rights training is much in demand from government and civil society. Project staff are in a unique position to provide practical and useful training that combines legal theory on human rights with an understanding of South Africa's system of governance, and the challenges facing service providers as well as children and their caregivers. Examples of training to date are:
  • Training on child rights and child law for health professionals.
  • Assistance to the European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA) and UNICEF to train members of various Southern African Development Community parliaments.
  • Child rights training for health practitioners enrolled in the University of Cape Town's Child Health M.Phil long-distance learning course, offered by the Child Health Unit in the School of Child and Adolescent Health.
  • Child Rights in Context training for fourth-year medical students.
  • Child rights training for Masters in Law (LLM) students at the University of Pretoria.
3.  Public interest litigation

The project also promotes the development of jurisprudence on children's socio-economic rights. Related activities have focused on:
  • encouraging networking amongst public interest lawyers and children's sector organisations;
  • initiating precedent-setting litigation; and
  • supporting litigation with quantitative and qualitative evidence.

Current project team: Paula Proudlock, Helen Meintjes, Katharine Hall, Lucy Jamieson, Lori Lake, Lizette Berry.


Further reading
Zero draft of a General Comment on Article 24 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child
Proudlock P, Luchesi T & Dick 2011
Consultancy for World Vision International, Save the Children Geneva, United Nations Children’s Fund, and the World Health Organisation.
Children’s Institute amicus curiae affidavit in Sithasolwazi Stemele and Minister for Social Development, case no. 14/1/4/-206/10, South Gauteng High Court
Proudlock P, Hall K, Meintjes H & Jamieson L 2011
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: Maintaining its value in international and South African Child Law
Mahery P 2009
In: Boezaart T (ed) Child Law in South Africa. Claremont: Juta.
Children’s socio-economic rights
Proudlock P 2009
In: Boezaart T (ed) Child Law in South Africa. Claremont: Juta.
Children’s Institute’s answering affidavit to first to third respondents’ application for a postponement in Ncamile and the Children’s Institute vs the Minister of Social Development and Others Case No. 227/2008
Proudlock P 2008
29 April 2008, High Court of South Africa (Eastern Cape Division).

Defining children's constitutional right to social services
Dutschke M 2006 A Project 28 Working Paper, July 2006

Rights in brief: Children's right to survival and maximum development
Dutschke M & Abrahams K 2006

Child rights at the core: A commentary on the use of international law in South African court cases on children's socio-economic rights
Rosa S & Dutschke M 2006
A Project 28 working paper, May 2006

Oversight and legislative tools for Parliament to facilitate and monitor the realisation of children's rights
Proudlock P 2005
Developed for AWEPA and UNICEF training of Members of Parliament of various Southern African Development Community countries, June 2005.

Children's rights to social services
Dutschke M 2005
In: Child Rights in Focus, issue number 3, June 2005

Children's socio-economic rights in focus at international congress
Proudlock P 2005
In: Child Rights in Focus, issue number 3, June 2005

Using international law to realise children's socio-economic rights in South Africa
Rosa S 2005
In: Child Rights in Focus, issue no. 3, June 2005

Participants' feedback

The course is well structured, well conceptualised, inclusive and encouraged participation. Very impressed by the detail in the manual, additional resources and readings. Very simple, straightforward and clear message. I enjoyed the fact that it drew on experiences of the participants.
Paediatrician: Western Cape Department of Health

Since coming back from the workshop, I am a changed man and professional; I really take my work responsibilities seriously. I'm a child ambassador at the local and district hospitals. I now run training on the Children's Act and other related Acts to forensic, paediatric, and general nurses.
Clinical psychologist: Limpopo Department of Health
The course was really interesting and worthwhile. It made me think about changing certain attitudes and re-looking at my practice. It also got me thinking of child-related issues beyond my practice and considering more advocacy involvement.
Doctor: Western Cape Department of Health

I found the material clear and concise, and really appreciated the structure of the course. It simplified and contextualised child rights very well ... It inspired me to continue advocating for children. The difference now is that I have a sound grasp of what the rights are, and can take on the challenges with this knowledge.
Paediatrician: KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health
It was interesting to learn that children's rights are no less important than adults' rights, and the importance of consideration of our own assumptions about childhood. I also learnt to be more sensitive and caring when it comes to this subject.
Nurse educator
I really enjoyed this course a lot. I think it should be compulsory for any person working with children to learn about children's rights, consent and law, etc. 
Paediatrician: Western Cape Department of Health


I can always rely on the Children's Institute's information to be accurate and of a high quality. In particular, I view them as leaders in the field of children's socio-economic rights (and in particular health rights). I am aware that they have also become involved with socio-economic rights litigation, which is enormously valuable work. The Institute also played a phenomenally important role in the Children's Bill process, the co-ordination of civil society participation was and continues to be a good practice model, without a doubt.
Dr Ann Skelton, Director: Centre for Child Law, Univ. of Pretoria, Sept. 2008

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