The Dullah Omar School for the Advice Office Sector

To strengthen and revitalize the Community Advice Office (CAO) sector. 

Aim of the Project

The School is now institutionalised as an ACAOSA programme, and Black Sash has moved into the role of education and training partner (see reports from 2016 and 2017). 

The Dullah Omar School was conceptualized to achieve the following: 

  • Offer paralegals in the advice office sector, particularly women and the youth, an opportunity to engage in horizontal and vertical learning; engage about practice and enhance activism. It currently offers both accredited and non-accredited training. 
  • Raise the profile of the community-based advice office sector and their role in facilitating access to human rights and justice.
  • Networking; exposure to relevant legal instruments; and be the forum to collect issues for further advocacy, e.g. the right for paralegals to represent poor people at the CCMA.

The inaugural Dullah Omar School was held in Johannesburg, in March 2015, and provided a significant learning platform to more than 120 participants from community advice offices across all the provinces in South Africa. Two schools have been held since then.

Contributors to the school, including key organisations working on human rights issues, were invited to provide teaching input on five important content areas that paralegals often encounter in their dealings with communities. The content areas included Labour Law, Social Security and Assistance, Family Law, Local Government and Using the Paralegal Manual.

Another stream of the work was to develop a national Education and Training strategy, which would formalize and develop the capacity of the paralegal sector. Invited guest speakers from academic institutions, provided input and presentations highlighting their experiences and lessons learnt in formalizing the accreditation of non-professional entities. Academic institutions will continue to provide guidance and assistance towards regulating the content and supporting accreditation.

In the 2016 the Black Sash piloted the citizen-based monitoring course modules, and in 2017 we piloted the advocacy module. 

The 2017 Dullah Omar School was made possible with funding from the CS Mott Foundation and the Open Society Foundation - South Africa.