The DA will in the coming days submit our comments on the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill that was opened by Parliament on Sunday.
Not only does the DA have a number of concerns regarding the Bill, but we strongly feel that the call for public participation would disadvantage vernacular speakers as all the vernacular advertisements were only published in regional papers, while the English call for submission were published in a national paper (The Sunday Times).
Furthermore, the advertisements in vernacular papers would not allow the public 30 days to submit comments before the closing date on 15 June 2022. While the call for submissions was already advertised on 15 May 2022 in English and isiZulu papers, it will only be advertised in isiXhosa on 19 May, in Setswana, Xitsonga, Sesotho, isiNdebele, Tshivenda, Sepedi, and siSwati on 20 May, and Afrikaans on 21 May.
The DA believes the BELA Bill will give the Department head unprecedented powers to determine language and admissions policies within in schools while suppressing school governing boards and school communities’ abilities to truly oppose the changes.
The DA has communicated extensively on the following problematic clauses of the BELA Bill which fails to take into account the practical implications of making grade R compulsory; takes the decision of final admission away from school governing boards without allowing for a more nuanced appeals mechanism; removes power over a school’s language policy and places it in the hands of Head of the Department of Basic Education; the clauses regarding home schooling fails to take into account the various concerns of the stakeholders; and the Bill is missing an opportunity to effectively regulate online and blended learning to alleviate the pressure on physical schooling.
The DA has already received more than 11 500 signatures combined on our English and Afrikaans #StopSchoolCapture petitions, and we encourage the public to continue signing the petitions and also submit their concerns in writing to Llewellyn Brown, the secretary of the parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education via email: email@example.com or online at https://forms.gle/MoC6AdbdQyYPk3Y49 or via WhatsApp: +27 60 550 9848 by no later than 15 June 2022 at 16:00.