The petitions aim to stop the ANC government from enacting problematic clauses of their Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, which will essentially waters down the school governing bodies’ (SGB) powers to make decisions regarding language policies and admissions.
In addition to the abovementioned problematic clauses of the BELA Bill, are those that touch on making Grade R mandatory, home school registration, and centralization of procurement of teaching materials. There is also a legal lacuna/gap where online and blended learning is not addressed. This is a missed opportunity.
The DA believes that the power of decision-making should reside with the school governing bodies.
The following clauses causes us concern:
Making grade R compulsory
- While the DA supports grade R for all children as an important developmental tool, we are very concerned about the financial costs, feasibility, funds to cope with the influx of grade R learners, and practicality – there are already shortages regarding teachers and challenges with school infrastructure. A costed implementation plan considering needed infrastructure and employment of educators must be presented.
- There is a need for government to put proper plans in place that ensure scarcity of resources do not affect the adequate implementation of this clause in the bill.
- The BELA Bill puts the final decision of school admissions into the hands of the provincial Heads of Department of Education, with appeals to the MEC. The DA believes that this power should remain with the SGBs, as final decisions that affect the school should remain with the school’s community.
- Instead of a blanket decision to take away power over admissions from all 24 000 public schools in the country, the DA suggests putting in place a suitable appeals mechanism that would provide adequate recourse in specific cases where schools abuse these policies to exclude certain learners.
- The DA believes decisions regarding language policy should remain with SGBs and not be moved to the Head of the Department of Basic Education. Instead of a blanket decision to take power over language policies away from the 24 000 public schools in the country, the DA suggests putting in place a suitable appeals mechanism that would provide adequate recourse in specific cases where problems arise.
Home School Education
- While we believe that there must be accountability measures in place regarding home schools to ensure quality education for home schooled learners, the various concerns of the stakeholders of home schooling must be taken into account.
Online and blended learning
- The DA has concerns the Bill is missing an opportunity to effectively regulate online and blended learning to alleviate the pressure on physical schooling.