Legal and Civic Education
Educating the public on their rights gives people the courage to express their dissatisfaction when their rights are violated. The Information, Education and Communication materials (IEC) developed by the LRF’s Education and Training section and printed by the Legal Publications Unit remain in the communities for referral and use beyond the immediate beneficiaries. Legal and civic education and information underpin the LRF’s work, so that those seeking legal advice and redress have knowledge of the channels available to them.
The legal education outreach takes several forms
Paralegal Mangisi conducting an outreach session.
Needs analyses were conducted with community leaders to select topics likely to be beneficial to their communities and focal point persons provided insights into the legal challenges bedevilling their communities. In one particular community, complaints of traditional leaders trying matters outside their jurisdiction formed the basis of topics chosen for a session. A presentation on the Court and the Law was subsequently made to assist kraal and village heads on this issue.
Immediately following education sessions, paralegals were able to render legal services to the women and men in need. Those attending outreaches also referred others to the LRF advice centres. Some 28% of LRF clients learnt of the organisation as a result of the legal education programme, a clear sign that people actually were empowered to assert their human and legal rights.
Community leaders’ workshops
Community leaders’ workshops target people who often are the first point of call for community members. During the last year the LRF conducted 339 community leaders’ workshops with a total of 17,712 participants. Most of them took place in the rural areas where people are in greater need of such information
The feedback from community leaders showed that families found themselves unwittingly abusing children’s rights when they thought they were doing the best for their children; for example, when they asked children to absent themselves from school to help with herding cattle, a form of child abuse as it is every child’s right to education
Teachers are regarded as sources of information in their communities. They are well positioned to effectively play multiplier roles as they share new knowledge with students and members of the community.
Teachers in Gutu reported that they shared the knowledge from workshops conducted in 2012 with other teachers who had not attended the workshops.
Workshops revealed that the most common chore which s children were being asked to do was fetching water and firewood for teachers. It was pointed out that it was unlawful for teachers to ask students to carry out chores for them
The LRF introduced during the year, conversation cafés, which created informal platforms for spontaneous dialogue on legal issues that affect young people.
The conversations made young people realise they could come together to talk about issues that affected them. Participants found the informal style adopted for the cafés to be refreshing, letting them be free to express their views and participate actively in the debate. In total 60 cafes took place reaching 3,110 youths, 62% female.