Petition directed to the President: Do not declare Afrikaans schools to be the enemy

Three organisations have today intensified their joint pressure on the government regarding the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill with a petition directed to Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa.

With this petition, Solidarity, AfriForum and the Solidarity Support Centre for Schools (SCS) demand that Pres. Ramaphosa does not approve the Bill and that he sends it back to the National Assembly (NA) for reconsideration.

Anton van der Bijl, Solidarity’s deputy chief executive for legal matters, says the amendments to give heads of the department of education and other government officials the final say on schools’ language and admissions policy could have serious consequences.

“These amendments threaten the survival of the few single-medium Afrikaans schools that still exist. In the petition we indicate that it attacks their identity and culture.

“After all, this piece of legislation is not worth the paper it is written on. If the President continues to sign it, we will proceed with litigation without hesitation,” Van der Bijl said.

Kallie Kriel, chief executive of AfriForum, says if Pres. Ramaphosa signs this anti-Afrikaans Bill, he will officially declare the Afrikaans language community and particularly Afrikaans schools and children to be the enemy.

“AfriForum, Solidarity and the SCS will then take further steps. We therefore address this letter to him with the request not to sign the legislation. If the President ignores it, AfriForum will oppose it nationally and internationally on all possible legal levels,” Kriel said.

Leon Fourie, chief executive of the SCS, says if Pres. Ramaphosa signs the BELA Bill, it will be a step back towards even greater government control over public schools.

“We demand that the amended BELA Bill be sent back for public input again and would gladly help formulate the amendments in such a way that it does not contradict the Constitution.

“The amended BELA Bill is not aligned with the original intent of the South African Schools Act. It leaves us with no other choice than to start with legal action if the President refuses to heed our concerns,” Fourie said.

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