Project Constitution

The Helen Suzman Foundation's, Project Constitution, in partnership with HSBC and Constitution Hill, is an outreach initiative - with a research component. The programme runs a series of workshops, host conversations and other activities for learners from selected government and independent schools around the Johannesburg metropolitan area.

democracyrightsjusticefreedom_F8341268AB9A6.jpg Although it is argued that the establishment of proper institutions is sufficient to maintain free and open societies, many recognise that even the most well designed institutions are not sufficient. Ultimately, a free and open society does not only rely on these institution but must rely on the commitment to the fundamental values and principles of a democracy, its citizens and those they elected to power - to uphold the country’s constitutional democracy. It is therefore evident that civic education is essential to preserve and sustain the country’s constitutional democracy.

The dispositions that inform a democratic ethos are not inherited but have to be fostered, nurtured and reproduced consciously from one generation to another, by word and study and by the power of example. The task then is the development of an informed, effective, and responsible citizen with the necessary knowledge, skills and dispositions. This can be achieved through interventions that inform this ethos.

The programme goals and objectives

  • Create a greater awareness of the Constitution (including the courts, separation of powers, democratic structures, and democratic institutions, etc.);
  • Further civic education amongst grade 10 and 11 learners on all aspects of constitutional democracy - its meaning and significance, historical roots, and how it fits into the contemporary South Africa landscape;
  • Support these young people in developing skills and knowledge that enable and empower them to be reflective, active and participative citizens; and
  • Ultimately develop a solid research programme which will facilitate constructive debate about the state and outcomes of civic education amongst grade 10 and 11 learners.

These are developed and facilitated with the aim of understanding the Constitution as a “social contract based on democratic rights, social justice, human rights and the improvement of the quality of life for all South Africans”; and of building a society that is responsive to rights and duties contained in the Constitution.

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