Representatives of AfriForum, as well as other organisations and the general public, took a strong stand against the Basic Education Act Amendment Bill (also known as the BELA Bill) during the public consultation sessions concerning this bill which took place from 5 to 7 May 2023 in Gauteng.
The sessions were a continuation of the consultation process that had started in February this year.
According to Alana Bailey, AfriForum’s head of Cultural Affairs, the sessions were well attended and an overwhelming number of those present emphasised that clauses in the bill pose a serious threat to the future of quality education, as well as communities’ and parents’ decision-making powers regarding their children’s education.
Amongst other things, this has to do with the centralisation of power in the hands of provincial heads of education to make a final decision on admissions and language policies of schools. This power currently rests in the hands of democratically elected school governing bodies and not with the state.
In Pretoria, Johannesburg and Brakpan, staff of AfriForum and members of the organisation’s Roodepoort and Brakpan branches respectively expressed their concerns about the threat to Afrikaans mother-language education that this expansion of the state’s power will entail at the expense of communities’ right to self-determination about the future of their children.
The public hearings provide members of the public with an opportunity to take a stand against the bill and should therefore be supported.
There had already been an opportunity for petitions and written comments. AfriForum also made a presentation in Parliament in November 2022. The organisation underlines that it is essential that all stakeholders should speak out against the bill as strongly as possible to prevent it from being passed and implemented in its current format.
AfriForum is of the opinion that it would be better to scrap the entire bill and reflect on the revision of the existing school legislation from scratch. “It is time for a fresh approach to school legislation, rather than dedicating more resources to this ideologically charged, unconstitutional and outdated bill. The current cooperation model of school communities and the state must be preserved and promoted, as well as all aspects that can promote mother-language education,” Bailey added.
The next hearings are scheduled to take place in Secunda (8 May), Jozini (12 May), Pietermaritzburg (13 May) and Pinetown (14 May), after which the Eastern, Western and Northern Capes will each get a turn.
Read the original article in Afrikaans on AfriForum