AfriForum states that budget pressures highlight the undesirability of BELA Bill

After the conclusion of the last public consultation sessions on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (the so-called BELA Bill) last week, AfriForum once again appealed to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to reject the bill, as it is undesirable and impracticable.

According to Alana Bailey, AfriForum’s Head of Cultural Affairs, the budget cuts that the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is currently undertaking, and which the education authorities in the other provinces of the country will also be forced to follow, prove this statement.

“In a presentation to the Western Cape legislature in March this year, the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) indicated that an additional budget of around R17.7-billion will be required to implement the provisions of the bill. While the country’s education budget is being cut to such an extent that emergency measures such as the termination of teachers’ contracts are being taken, it is inconceivable that this additional burden should be added to the budget,” explains Bailey.

She mentions that a shrinking education budget also obliges public schools to pay even more attention to their relationship with their learners’ parents and communities. “Currently, parents and communities support their schools because they are an active part of the management and operations of schools by means of the democratically elected governing bodies. However, if their final say over, among other issues, schools’ admission and language policies henceforth rest in the hands of provincial heads of Education as the bill proposes, this precious relationship could dissolve. This will increase the financial burden on schools. Evidently, the bill does not seek to nurture this wholesome relationship but solely focuses on expanding the powers of officials. All of this will happen at the expense of the future of our youth,” she adds.

Bailey reiterates that if the NCOP passes the bill without significant amendments and refers it to the President for final approval, AfriForum is ready to oppose it with legal action. Anyone who wants to support the legal process is invited to give a mandate to AfriForum to do so at www.stopbela.co.za.

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