BELA bill will worsen education problems – AfriForum

Henry

On Thursday, AfriForum delivered an oral presentation on the Basic Education Act Amendment Bill (the so-called BELA Bill) in Cape Town.

The civil rights organization emphasized once again that this bill does not offer practical solutions to problems in the education system.

It was the last day the public had the opportunity to participate in the National Council of Provinces (NRP) public hearings on this.

AfriForum already submitted written comments on this controversial bill in March.

According to Nicolene Müller, AfriForum’s project coordinator for education, overwhelming public participation in Thursday’s session “proved how strongly parents feel about direct involvement in their children’s school careers”.

During her presentation, Müller emphasized anew that the bill does not offer practical solutions to problems in the education system, in particular the lack of mother tongue teaching, overcrowded schools and the resulting high dropout rates of learners.

“On the contrary, it will actually worsen the bottlenecks because the draft law proposes that the final decision-making powers regarding schools’ admission and language policies must henceforth rest in the hands of the provincial heads of education,” said Muller.

She also elaborated on AfriForum’s position that the amendments proposed in the bill are unconstitutional.

“The organization maintains that the increasing centralization of power in the hands of the state and the consequent disempowerment of schools’ governing bodies could mean disastrous consequences for education in the country.”

According to Alana Bailey, AfriForum’s head of cultural affairs, the bill must be rejected as a whole and a new amendment bill drawn up.

“It must not only be constitutionally aligned and fair, but also take into account the latest technological developments and education methods.

“However, if the National Council of Provinces accepts the bill without significant amendments and refers it to the president for signature, AfriForum is ready to oppose it with legal action,” said Bailey.