The promise of tomorrow lies in the realisation of today. It’s embedded in conversations of freedom, equality and justice. It manifests itself only when small ideas meet big ideas at the interface of liberating conversations about ourselves, and the basic rights all human beings share: the right to life; the right to shelter; the right to education and many more that are enshrined in the basic document of our country propelling us forward as a nation.
It has been two decades since the ushering in of a new democracy and the establishment of a new constitution for a new dispensation in South Africa, yet a majority of South Africans continue to be unaware of their constitutional rights and/or how these rights apply to the persistent inequalities surrounding them. It is clear that the legacy of Apartheid endures: law is still viewed by many as a means of control, and not of development and transformation, and thus, the South African society is plagued by a culture of violence that has continued to reproduce itself, and is now seen as legitimate.
The general lack of an awareness of rights among South Africans, coupled with this normalized resort to violence, corruption and inequality, underscore the need for robust and widely accessible constitutional education and training. As the Constitutional Literacy and Service Initiative (CLASI), we attempt to build a foundation for a popular culture of active citizenship and engagement with the ideals contained in the Constitution. We stand on the shoulders of organizations such as Black Sash, Street Law, and the hundreds of community-based advice offices who have long endeavored to provide access to justice and rights-based literacy programmes to South African.