AfriForum says changes to the BELA Bill are mere verbal gymnastics           

AfriForum describes the so-called concessions by the Department of Basic Education to amend the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (better known as the BELA Bill), which was accepted yesterday by a majority of the National Council of Provinces, as mere verbal gymnastics.

According to Alana Bailey, AfriForum’s Head of Cultural Affairs, AfriForum is not reassured by the amendments. She mentions that the final written draft will be thoroughly studied as soon as it becomes available with a view to the legal course that AfriForum will follow.

The reasons why AfriForum is not satisfied with the changes as they were discussed yesterday, include that:

  • The provincial heads of Education will still have the final say on language and admissions policies. “That consultation between officials and governing bodies will take place, is quite meaningless. We saw how members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Basic Education had to be forced to take all public input into account a few months ago. Consultation is often used as window dressing to create the illusion that public opinion is being taken into account, while the ANC forges ahead on its ideological path. Sometimes it is also a bullying process to try to force staff and governing bodies to convert single medium Afrikaans schools to parallel or dual medium schools,” she says.
  • Even if consultation were to take place in good faith, there is still no indication of what will happen if consensus is not reached. In the past, legal action was required that schools had to fund out of parents’ pockets, while the government could use taxpayers’ own money against them.
  • Successful single medium Afrikaans schools constantly report to AfriForum that they are under continuous pressure from officials to accept learners who want English instruction. Bailey mentions that she is not aware of any single medium English school that experiences the same pressure to accommodate Afrikaans tuition.
  • Strawman narratives are used by the ANC about schools allegedly using policies maliciously and for racist reasons to exclude learners. This was once again part of the remarks of Elleck Nchabeleng, ANC MP and Committee Chairman, yesterday. AfriForum and various other organisations and individuals have repeatedly asked for details of such schools, so that they can be held to account. No school has been identified by the department yet.
  • The current South African Schools Act clearly outlines actions that can be taken against schools that transgress in this way. New legislation is not necessary at all to crack down on discriminatory governing bodies. This raises the question what the reason for clauses 4 and 5 of the BELA Bill really is.
  • Nchabeleng’s comments and references to apartheid make it very clear once again that the ANC is trying to push an agenda of retaliation against Afrikaans speakers and did not create these clauses with a view of promoting quality education.
  • Finally, it also concerns AfriForum that no further amendments have been made in recognition of the numerous other objections that the public has raised against the BELA Bill yet, including affordability and the pressure it creates for home and micro schools. AfriForum will monitor developments in this regard.
  • The fact that North West’s representative did not arrive yesterday also creates concern about this province’s attitude to education. The fact that the Western Cape is still taking a stand against BELA proves that the amendments in no way make the bill more acceptable and that education experts in this province are not fooled by the verbal gymnastics.

AfriForum remains committed to oppose the BELA Bill for as long as it poses a threat to the continued existence of Afrikaans schools and quality education. The public can give their mandate to AfriForum in this regard at www.stopbela.co.za.

Alana Bailey

Similar Posts