The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is in its 24th year.  In the past much attention has been paid to issues of racism, sexism, culture of violence and homophobia. The theme for this is year is, “From peace in the home to peace in the world: Make education safe for all.” This theme recognizes the dire situation of millions of girls and boys, and young women and men, whose universal human right to education is daily impacted on or cut short because of violence, lack of resources, and discrimination. The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign starts on 25 November, and ends on 10 December with the celebration of International Human Rights Day.

This year, the Campaign will focus specifically on the relationship between militarism and the right to education in situations of violent conflict, in relative peace, and a variety of education settings, while continuing to make the links with militarism, as an encompassing patriarchal system of discrimination and inequality based on our relationships to power.

Education is a fundamental human right recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nonetheless, the right to education is subject to political, economic, and social shifts and upheavals, leaving certain groups (especially women, girls, and people with disabilities, LGBTQI people, migrants and indigenous people) particularly vulnerable and liable to being denied this crucial right.

The protection of the right to education relies on national governments’, and the international community’s response and commitment. The right to education is often affected by poor infrastructure and inadequate curricula and testing tools, which in addition are often not gender-sensitive.

NAPTOSA reacted to the recent challenges faced by South African students and expressed its disappointment at the Minister of Finance, who  continued to deliver his 2015 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement for 2015/16. The Finance Minister did not allocate extra money to universities to fund Higher Education, but went on to speak of, “the important conversations are not about computer programmes or mechanical tools. They are about our children, and how we value their future”. All this, while our children protested outside for what really is their right.  

Learners, students, teachers and parents are well positioned to advocate for this theme in particular during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.  We call on governments and communities to work together to bring an end to gender –based violence, including against those with disabilities and make education safe for all.  

NAPTOSA calls on members, learners, teachers and the community to make education safe for all through advocacy as we commemorate the commencement of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence on 25 November, International World Aids Day on 1 December, International Day of Persons with Disability on 3 December, and International Human Rights Day on 10 December 2015.