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AfriForum opposes BELA Bill, condemns Lesufi’s polarising comments

The civil rights organisation AfriForum once again appeals to the public to condemn the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, which is available for public input until 15 June 2022. This appeal follows the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi’s, criticism yesterday (30 May 2022) against people opposing the BELA Bill.

According to media reports, Lesufi stated that the bill is aimed at transformation and that he calls for the idea that children who speak a specific language to be educated in a monolingual school to be “defeated”. According to Alana Bailey, AfriForum’s Head of Cultural Affairs, it is clear that the MEC, as usual, is pursuing his polarising racial agenda, while blatantly ignoring proven best practices for education, such as the importance of mother-language education. Furthermore, the MEC apparently refuses to recognise the fact that Afrikaans-speaking children belong to all races. “It is tragic when someone in a position of authority adheres to his ideological agenda so relentlessly that he sets himself up as being ignorant and unfit for the position he occupies,” she adds. “Casting suspicion on children’s need for mother-language education is dangerously polarising – the necessity of single-medium mother-language education has been indisputably proven by international education experts.”

His proposal to use three languages of instruction per school is doomed to fail ‒ in practice all over the world it has been proven that where several languages are used for instruction in an institution, the strongest language eventually prevails ‒ in other words English in the South African context. “This is further proof of his lack of commitment to mother-language education and the development of the country’s ten indigenous languages,” says Bailey.

Further absurd remarks by the MEC yesterday include that he believes the proposed amendment that will make Grade R compulsory will save children from early childhood development centres where, according to him, they “only eat, pray, sleep and sing”. He also proves his lack of knowledge about centres where children have access to excellent pre-school development programmes. In addition, he ignores the 80% dysfunctional schools in the country where children are in the department’s care, but can do little more than eat, sleep, pray and sing, as TIMSS, PIRLS and other tests have proven.

“Then the minister also complains that his budget to build new schools is too small, but the additional budget required for the implementation of the compulsory Grade R, amounts to R1,9 billion. It does not make sense,” concludes Bailey.

All these remarks by Lesufi underscore the need to oppose the BELA Bill.

An online petition was launched by AfriForum to obtain support against the bill. It has already been signed by about 10 000 people and is available at redafrikaans.co.za.

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