89% of public submissions rejects BELA Bill, supports DA’s position

Issued by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
01 Nov 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP.

The overwhelming majority of the submissions from the public on the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill thus far analysed, concurs with the DA’s position and indicate serious reservations regarding the Bill and many rejected the Bill entirely.

During a parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education, it was revealed that they received more than 18 000 comments on the draconian BELA Bill, of which two-thirds must still be analysed. But it is completely reasonable to expect that those submissions will follow the current trend of complete rejection. In fact, 3 138 submissions completely rejected the Bill, 190 had concerns with some of the clauses, while 141 submissions were unspecified. A mere 35 supported the Bill.

(See attached graph)

The concerns raised by the public largely reflects the DA’s issues with the Bill, including the practicality of implementing compulsory Grade R; the disempowering of school governing bodies (SGBs) to determine admissions and language policies which could be used to target Afrikaans and other mother tongue education schools; the centralisation of procurement; and the lack of engagement with the home schooling sector, while missing a valuable opportunity to address the regulation of blended and online learning given the post Covid-education environment.

It is clear that the Department has failed to consult widely with the public and education stakeholders. The BELA Bill in its current form disempowers schools and communities, while creating many opportunities for abuse by the Minister, MECs and provincial heads of the basic education departments to capture schools.

The DA will request that National Treasury present the financial implications regarding compulsory grade R to the committee and practically implantable solutions. We will also request that the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, and her Department present their plans for the regulations of blended and online learning beyond the current draft framework which is denying many learners home education.

South Africans have made their views on the BELA Bill, and the ‘Lesufi-clauses’ in particular clear. They do not support it and to push through this Bill when the majority of submissions reject it would be a travesty.

Creating yet another piece of lacking legislation, without addressing the ANC government’s lack of political will to practically upgrade the teaching environments will not improve the quality of education or curb the high learner dropout rate. Schools need empowered SGBs that are passionate about their schools and communities to lift the quality of education in South Africa.

The DA will continue to be the voice against this draconian bill in Parliament.