School programmes

The following school programmes are available during the school year. Please note that these programmes are offered from Monday to Friday, from 9am to 12pm and from 12pm to 3pm. They include a guide, a one-hour tour, a two-hour CAP-aligned educational programme of your choice and refreshments. We can accommodate a maximum of 120 learners per slot at a cost of R80 per learner. Bookings are essential and need to be made two weeks in advance.

A journey through Constitution Hill

This gives intermediate learners the chance to think, ask and reflect about who we are, where we have come from and where we are going. This programme provides an overview of the Constitution Hill precinct. It includes permanent exhibitions in the three prisons – the Old Fort, the Women’s Jail and Number Four ­– as well as a visit to the Constitutional Court, where learners are given the opportunity to learn more about our living, working Constitution, which is said to be one of the best in the world. The tour concludes with an exercise on the Bill of Rights and our responsibilities in terms of protecting our rights and the rights of others. Exercises are provided for learners to complete when they are back at school.

Learning from our leaders

The CAPS curriculum puts emphasis on Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi as great leaders. This programme explores the lives of these two great leaders, focusing on the qualities that made them revered leaders, including: being servants for the people and working for the good of others; being dedicated and wholeheartedly committed to their beliefs; and being prepared to sacrifice for the sake of others. The Mandela Gandhi exhibition is the latest permanent exhibition at Constitution Hill, juxtaposing the lives of these great leaders, both of whom were imprisoned here.

Bill of Rights workshop

This constitutional education workshop was originally started by the Constitutional Court clerks for high school learners. The project arose out of a recognition that the future of South Africa’s constitutional democracy depends on an understanding of and widespread appreciation for the Constitution, its purpose and its values, which are lacking among the youth and other sectors of South African society.

The skills that learners obtain through the workshop are integral to their participation in South Africa’s democracy. The workshop places particular emphasis on rights that are likely to be directly relevant to the learners, including, but not limited to, the right to freedom and security of the person, the right to education, the right to equality, and the right to life.

Teaching methods used are designed to assist the learners in developing skills that will allow them to exercise their rights, and involve allowing the learners the space to argue and assert their rights, in the form of a mini-court hearing. There are also numerous small group discussion sessions, while the facilitator highlights rights violations in practical examples.

My South Africa: Thand' Umzansi

The “My South Africa: Thand’ Umzansi” programme is aimed at instilling the values of the Constitution and encouraging patriotism and civic pride in learners. Through the programme, learners are taught how to hoist the South African flag, to sing the national anthem and are given the opportunity to read the preamble of the Constitution. The programme raises awareness of South African national symbols and promotes social cohesion.

Art, human rights and justice

This programme is aimed at learners who study visual arts in Grades 10 to 12. It makes the link between visual arts and human rights.

Visual arts is about self-expression and offers learners a way to engage meaningfully with, and respond to, their world. Human rights are a crucial aspect of the world we live in and our role in this world. The visual arts played a significant role in the struggle against apartheid, and are relevant in commenting on sociopolitical issues of present day South Africa.

Constitution Hill’s exhibitions and archives and the Constitutional Court’s extensive art collection provide an excellent opportunity to encourage learners to reflect on the interaction between art and society, on issues such as human rights, justice, equality, democracy and other values enshrined in our Constitution.

This programme uses a wide range of visual artworks – most of which are available for viewing at Constitution Hill – to provoke emotional, intellectual, creative and artistic responses from learners in Grades 10 to 12. We also try to fulfil and reinforce several key aims of the CAPS visual arts curriculum. These are to:

  • Explore, develop and realise creative ideas in response to both externally set and self-generated projects, drawing on the learners’ own experience and knowledge of visual culture in the past and present
  • Explore and manipulate materials, techniques, processes and technology in the making of imaginative and innovative artworks of personal expression
  • Be exposed to the diversity of visual arts traditions in international and South African contexts and use these as a resource
  • Understand the social and historical role of visual arts in transforming societies.

The artwork images, text, questions and exercises presented in this programme relate directly to visual culture and visual literacy studies, the conceptualisation and meaning of artworks, and art as visual communication. This programme focuses on three themes:

  • Sociopolitical and resistance art
  • Post-democratic identity in South Africa
  • Architecture, art and craft in the Constitutional Court building

Constitution Hill and human rights

One of the principles of the National Curriculum Statements is, “Human rights, inclusivity, environment and social justice: infusing the principles and practices of social and environmental justice and human rights as defined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.”

In defining life orientation, CAPS for Grades 7 to 9 states that “Life orientation helps learners to develop beneficial social interactions, such as respecting others’ rights and values”. It also lists as one of the topics for Grades 7-9, “Constitutional rights and responsibilities”. This includes addressing human rights violations, gender equity, cultural diversity, and contributions of organisations from various religions to social development.

In Grades 10 to 12, two of the six topics in life orientation are, “Social and environmental responsibility” and “Democracy and human rights”. These topics include diversity, discrimination, human rights violations, national and international instruments and conventions, religious laws and belief systems, democratic participation and democratic structures, responsible citizenship, the role of the media in a democratic society, ideologies, beliefs and world views on construction of recreation, and physical activity across cultures and genders.

This educational programme at Constitutional Hill supports the desired outcomes outlined above, and explores human rights in South Africa and in the international context. These rights are protected in South Africa by several courts of law, the highest of which is the Constitutional Court at Constitution Hill.

Constitution Hill and history

Constitution Hill houses the hope of the new South Africa through the constitutional rights that are protected by the Constitutional Court. The court is situated on the site of past abuses, where one can walk and absorb the past and present, and feel the layers of oppression and hope, and injustice and defiance since the inception of the Old Fort – part of which still remains on this site as a reminder of the struggles and attempts in the past to repress democracy and human rights.

It is important to know our history so that we can learn from the mistakes of the past and use them to make sure we move towards a better future. Constitution Hill is full of interesting history, and we would love to share with you the history of the site, the Constitutional Court and the Constitution, before telling you more about some of your human rights. One or more of the following themes can be explored through our history programme:

Theme 1: The minerals revolution in South Africa

This theme is covered in:

  • Grade 8 as part of the Industrial Revolution
  • Grade 10 as background to the South African War of 1899 to 1902

Theme 2: Racism and segregation at the Old Fort

  • This theme is covered in: Grade 11 History – CAPS includes “Ideas of race in the late 19th and 20th centuries”, the “Rise of Afrikaner nationalism and apartheid South Africa in the 1940s to 1960s”

Theme 3: Resistance

This theme is covered in:

  • Grade 8 History – Colonialism and the scramble for Africa
  • Grade 10 – Colonial expansion after 1750: indentured Indian labourers

Theme 4: Apartheid and the Old Fort

This theme is covered in:

  • Grade 9 – Turning points in South African history from 1948 to 1994
  • Grade 12 History syllabus includes civil society protests from 1950s to 1970s

Theme 5: Civil resistance in South Africa

This theme is covered in:

  • Grade 12 History syllabus includes civil society protests from 1950s to 1970s. It also includes civil resistance in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s

Theme 6: Women and resistance

This theme is covered in:

  • Grade 12 History syllabus includes civil society protests from 1950s to 1970s, which encompasses women’s identity in South Africa from the 1950s to 1970s. It also includes civil resistance in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s

Theme 7: the challenge of democracy and human rights

This theme is covered in:

  • Grade 6 Social Studies syllabus includes democracy and citizenship in South Africa
  • Grade 12 History syllabus includes “The final road to democracy – the Constitution and Bill of Rights”; and “How has South Africa chosen to remember the past?”

Special speakers

We have a number of former political prisoners who are willing to share their unique experiences of their incarceration with learners. Schools are able to book a session with an ex-prisoner as part of any of the programmes listed above. The fee for these sessions is paid directly to the ex-prisoners by Constitution Hill. Special speakers are subject to availability.