BELA Bill: DA will PAIA boxes of written submissions 

Issued by Baxolile 'Bax' Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
14 Sep 2023 in News

The DA will submit a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application regarding the written submissions posted to Parliament as part of the public participation process of the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill.

We are doing this in an effort to ensure that all voices are fairly heard and evaluated as we believe public participation is an important democratic principle – Parliament should be led by the people they stand in service of and represent.

Furthermore, the DA notes an article by BusinessTech stating that “the Department of Basic Education has opted to remove the clauses giving provincial heads of department (HODs) the final say on language and admission policies at schools across the country”, as well as the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba’s statement: “the governing body must submit the language policy of a public school and any amendment thereof to the head of department for approval. The language policy must also take into consideration the language needs of the broader community. The committee further adopted the proposed amendment that the Head of Department, after consultation with the governing body of the school, has the final authority to admit a learner to a public school”.

Despite the ANC steamrolling the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) A-list through Parliament, and the DA wanting to welcome seeming concessions to the Bill, it is clear that clarity on proposed amendments of the Bill will only be forthcoming once we have sight of the next draft.

The DA remains very concerned that the ultimate decision on admission and language policies still resides with the Heads of Departments and would open to abuse, despite assurances of appeals mechanisms to MECs. We have therefore reserved our final decision on voting on the draft Bill until it has been finalised.

The DA will continue to be the voice of reason in Parliament and fight the ANC government’s quest for centralised power.