AfriForum presents oral submission on the BELA Bill to Standing Committee

AfriForum today made an oral presentation on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (the so-called BELA Bill) to the Standing Committee on Education and Technology, Sport, Arts and Culture. AfriForum’s participation in this event, which took place online, happened in addition to the extensive comments already submitted to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in January this year.

In the presentation, Alana Bailey, AfriForum’s Head of Cultural Affairs, reiterated that the expansion of mother-language education in public schools, the rehabilitation of the 80% dysfunctional schools in the country and the creation of more quality infrastructure are some solutions to the many challenges faced by the education sector in the country. She underlined that the Bill offers no viable solutions to these problems.

She once again emphasised AfriForum’s serious concerns about the constitutionality of certain amendments proposed in the Bill. Most of these provide for the increasing centralisation of power in the hands of the state and the consequent disempowerment of school governing bodies. This includes final decision-making on schools’ admissions and language policies, as well as the procurement of teaching and learning materials.

AfriForum is of the opinion that the Bill should be rejected and that a new amendment bill should be drafted. Not only must it be constitutionally sound and fair, but it should also take the latest technological developments and education methods into account.

Submissions from invited organisations will be heard by the committee until Friday. In the meantime, public consultation hearings are still taking place in some provinces. Following these processes, the NCOP will decide whether or not to approve the Bill. If it is approved, the next step is that it will be presented to the President for his final approval and signature.

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