Section 29( 1)( a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 states that everyone has a right to basic education including adult education. The provision of basic education, unlike other socio-economic rights, is not subject to available resources.

The South African Schools Act, 1996 (Act 84 of 1996) does not define basic education. The White Paper on Education and Training defines basic education as appropriately designed education programmes to the level year reception class plus nine (9) years of schooling... .

The Bill seeks to define the scope, content and meaning of basic education within the framework of availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability, in line with international human rights law, particularly. General Comment 13 of the Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights.

The Bill also seeks to make it obligatory for the State to investigate why learners fail to attend school, in order to address the high level of illiteracy due to learners' leaving school before  they are fully literate and numerate.