DBE statement confirms BELA Bill is a thinly veiled assault on school governing bodies

Issued by Baxolile Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
31 Aug 2023 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Baxolile Nodada MP.

The DA notes the Department of Basic Education’s statement, and we are surprised that DBE would so willing expose their intent to use the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill to disempower school governing bodies (SGBs) and communities.

James Ndlebe, Chief Director for Provincial Monitoring and Delivery Oversight, said in the statement that “It cannot be correct that SGBs are given unlimited and unchecked powers and have a finalise [stet] say in a school matter which is a public school. No grouping can have absolute power and account to no one in a democratic and sovereign state.”

While we agree that no grouping should have absolute power, that especially applies to the Department. The statement also fails to reflect the truth that SGBs are held directly accountable by communities themselves.

DBE’s statement is essentially a confirmation of their intent to target single medium schools and a testament of the ANC government’s failure to build enough quality schools in South Africa to ensure that all learners have the opportunity to receive basic education in their language of choosing.

Over the past 30 years in power, DBE has failed to eradicate pit toilets at schools, mud and asbestos schools, and overcrowding remains a major barrier to quality education. This while the Western Cape’s Rapid School Build programme is building schools in 65 days. The contrast is glaring – one government takes responsibility and ownership of quality education, while the other fails to ensure that grade 4 learners can read for meaning and seeks to disempower schools.

Without the DA’s insistence on due process in the past weeks, thousands of email submissions on the BELA Bill would have remained unanalysed and robbed those participants of their opportunity to give input and raise their concerns.

The ANC and Department on the other hand were happy to adopt a flawed report, despite the DA and other opposition parties voicing our concern and ultimately walking out of the committee meeting and breaking quorum. On Tuesday, we again raised the issue and all parties agreed with the DA that the correct process must prevail. We have also penned a letter to the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, on this.

The DA will do everything in our power to ensure that any education law that goes through Parliament is in the best interest of the children and will ensure they receive the best possible quality education.

We will not allow a draconian Bill that seeks to disempower communities and SGBs and centralise power, a Bill that fails to incorporate the concerns and suggestions from the homeschooling sector and does not address online or blended learning, nor the severe systemic problems of the basic education sector, to be bulldozed through Parliament.

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