The EFF and DA have slammed the ANC for using their majority in the basic education portfolio committee to wrestle power from school governing bodies. This after the ANC voted in support of the Basic Education Laws Amendment (Bela) Bill on Tuesday.
Some of the contentious and divisive clauses include those that take away the power of school governing bodies (SGBs) in determining the language and admission policies of schools. The bill gives the heads of provincial departments of education the final authority in determining the language and admission policies of schools.
EFF president Julius Malema said the bill took away people’s participation in education.“We must never take away the responsibility from the people because structures such as SGBs are created to allow people’s participation in decision-making. And because we said people govern, these are organs of people’s power.”
Malema said SGBs should not be hijacked by the teachers’ union, the South African Democratic Teachers Union, and ANC structures. “SGBs are genuine structures that are constituted by our people. This is what the Freedom Charter means … that there will be SGBs, hospital boards, street committees that allow people’s participation in government,” he said.
DA member of the basic education portfolio committee Baxolile Nodada said instead of the bill focusing on the real issues affecting quality education – such as overcrowded classrooms, dangerous infrastructure and the quality of teaching – opposition parties were told the bill’s purpose was purely to address administrative concerns.
“Yet this bill fails to address the legal lacuna of blended and online learning,” he said.
“The Department of Basic Education and ANC members of the committee also said that the department had sufficiently engaged with the home education community. Yet engagements between the department and home ‘schoolers’ mirrored those of the Bela Bill – a box ticking exercise.”