ANC MESSAGE ON THE BASIC EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL
The ANC welcomes the passing of the Basic Education Law Amendment (BELA) Bill by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Basic Education. This development accords with the ANC’s vision of transforming our national education system to reflect the values of the Constitution and our democratic society.
The basic education sector plays a key role in shaping the minds of young South Africans so that they contribute to nation-building and socioeconomic development.
The BELA Bill affirms the protection of the constitutional rights of learners by, amongst others, abolishing corporal punishment and making Grade R the compulsory entry point into basic education for all children. Importantly, the bill will include penalties for parents who fail to ensure that their children are in school.
The Bill eliminates the loophole that has been exploited by some conservative school governing bodies (SGBs) to exclude learners based on language which has been used as a proxy for racial exclusion. The Head of Department (HoD) will in future have the exclusive power to approve the language policies of schools. In exercising this power, the HoD will consider the language needs of the broader community in which a school is located. In consultation with SGBs, the HoD will also become the final authority on the admission of learners into public schools.
The ANC welcomes the clarity provided by the BELA Bill on homeschooling. New regulations will ensure the setting of basic education norms and standards for homeschooled learners such as assessment and progression that will be handled by qualified educators or assessors.
The ANC is pleased that wisdom prevailed in the committee and the clauses on permitting the sale of alcohol on school premises and compelling SGB members to declare annually their financial interests as well as those of their immediate families were removed. These clauses would have had unintended consequences and fuelled negative perceptions in society.
The ANC salutes the Department of Basic Education and members of the Portfolio Committee for the maturity they have demonstrated in processing the bill. The committee has driven extensive public participation and stakeholder engagement processes. The ANC is looking forward to the bill being tabled in the National Assembly and referred to the NCOP.
ISSUED BY THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
ANC NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON
076 891 5420
ACTING NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
066 056 0911