Amendments to Bela draft law positive turn


The amendments made to the Bela Bill show there is hope.

This is the opinion of the South African Teachers’ Union (SAOU) after the amendments were approved this week by the National Council of Provinces (NRP) committee for education, technology and sport.

The latest Bela bill will be presented for final approval on May 2, after which it will be sent to the National Assembly for approval. After this, the president must ratify it.

According to Bela, the head of department can, where he or she considers it practical and feasible, instruct a public school to accept more than one language of instruction.

Paul Sauer, executive officer of the SAOU, thinks there is hope because it seems from the amendments that suggestions and amendments that have been made have been listened to.

“The fact that the compulsory submission of the admission and language policy to the head of education for approval has been removed from the bill, and that the school governing body is specifically mentioned as policy maker in the bill, strikes a blow for public schools,” says Sauer.

Another positive step for the SAOU is that the head of education, when intending to change a school’s language policy, must do so in consultation with the school’s governing body.

“The school’s current language policy must be taken into account and when the administrative decision is made, it must be able to pass the test of reasonableness, legality and procedural fairness,” says Sauer.

He also points out that this position has already been tested by the Constitutional Court.

“The SAOU’s participation in mobilizing communities for comment at national and provincial level gave the public participation process certain legitimacy, which undoubtedly had the desired effect.”

The SAOU will continue with this and take a formal position again on 2 May, as soon as the final version is tabled.