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National Schools Moot Court Competition - a platform for learners to experiment with the application of the country’s supreme law

The DBE, in partnership with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Universities of Pretoria, Venda and the Western Cape, the Foundation for Human Rights, the Law Society of South Africa and Cliff Dekker Hofmeyr Inc., is hosting the National Schools Moot Court Competition for high schools from 04 to 08 October 2017.

Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty, addressed the delegates at the official opening of the Seventh National School Moot Competition held at the University of Pretoria on 05 October 2017, saying: “The 2017 Schools Moot Court Competition Problem Statement that you will be arguing is on Cultural Rights. It thus highlights some of the challenges that still exist within our schools and communities regarding cultural practices versus the constitutional value system. It also addresses the need for all to feel confident in their own identities. Hence it becomes imperative to consider, recognise, acknowledge and appreciate the diverse religious and multicultural belief systems that exist within our country”.

“This then makes the National School Moot Court Competition critical and the best place to begin to make a lasting impact within our schools. As part of classroom based activity, it forms part of the discursive essay writing and offers learners an opportunity to apply the content of the Constitution in a real life setting, as well as a platform to express ways of how we can observe and consider the human rights principles as the glue that keeps us together,” Deputy Minister Surty concluded.

The annual South African National Schools Moot Court Competition, established in 2011, aims at creating greater consciousness and understanding in South African schools and communities about the Constitution and the values embodied by it through the active participation of learners in a Moot Court Competition. Since its inception in 2011, the Competition has explored various sections of the Bill of Rights such as rights, equality, freedom of expression and human dignity. It offers a platform for young people to experiment with the actual application of the country’s supreme law.

The teams have to use the 2017 hypothetical problem statement to write their essays and compete in the provincial rounds, the national semi-finals and the national finals on intricate constitutional matters around freedom of expression. The case study tests the extent to which racism and hate speech find expression within the Constitutional Court as part of a paradigm shift amongst the youth and the entire society for nation building and unity.

The winners receive financial assistance towards their first year studies at any South African University to study law. The Moot is divided into written and oral rounds. All secondary schools in South Africa are invited to send a team of two learners to submit two short essays, each arguing the opposing view of the set fictional question. A panel of experts evaluate the submissions and select the four best submissions from the nine provinces which are then invited to the semi-final oral rounds held at the University of Pretoria. The finals, which include a prize giving ceremony, will be taking place at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on 08 October 2017.


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