Exclusion and Discrimination: Zimbabwean Migrant Children and South African Schools

Abstract

Post-2005 migration movements from Zimbabwe to South Africa have included a growing number of children. These children face considerable difficulties in accessing the South African educational system. School attendance rates are significantly lower amongst migrant than South African children. This paper is based on recent interviews with Zimbabwean parents and guardians in Cape Town and Johannesburg and shows the levels and types of discrimination they and their children face as well as their powerlessness to effect change. The exclusion of migrant children from education contravenes South Africa’s international human rights obligations as well as its own Bill of Rights and Department of Education directives. The Department of Home Affairs, however, makes schools sites for the enforcement of the draconian provisions of the 2002 Immigration Act. School authorities therefore operate with conflicting mandates. The evidence suggests that most prefer to side with the Department of Home Affairs and make their schools unwelcoming spaces for Zimbabwean children.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Kwerekwere and grigamba are used to demean all foreign Africans while kalanga is usually reserved for Zimbabweans. The origins and precise meanings of these insults are disputed.

  2. 2.

    Interview no. 30, Du Noon, Cape Town, 25 August 2010.

  3. 3.

    Interview no. 10, Observatory, Cape Town, 23 August 2010.

  4. 4.

    Interview no. 11, Observatory, Cape Town, 23 August 2010.

  5. 5.

    Participant in focus group discussion, Alexandra, Johannesburg, 1 September 2010

  6. 6.

    Participant in focus group discussion, Alexandra, Johannesburg, 1 September 2010

  7. 7.

    Interview no. 85, Alexandra, Johannesburg, 1 September 2010.

  8. 8.

    Focus group discussion, Orange Farm, Johannesburg, 2 September 2010.

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Acknowledgments

We wish to thank the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and the IDRC for funding the research on which this paper is based and the Zimbabwean students who assisted with the research.

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Crush, J., Tawodzera, G. Exclusion and Discrimination: Zimbabwean Migrant Children and South African Schools. Int. Migration & Integration 15, 677–693 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-013-0283-7

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Keywords

  • Migration
  • Xenophobia
  • Education
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe