The parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education has finally agreed to analyze the thousands of public submissions that still need to be analyzed as part of the education law amendment bill (known as the Bela bill).
This agreement follows two weeks after the DA and other opposition parties walked out of deliberations on clauses of the Bela bill in the parliament in Cape Town.
RNews reported earlier that the opposition parties broke the quorum on the day in question and walked out due to a lack of clarity about which written submissions were to be analysed, as all the hand-delivered submissions were apparently analysed, but only a portion of the e-mail submissions (6 715 of 17 452 ).
Baxolile “Bax” Nodada, the DA’s spokesperson on basic education, now says the committee’s agreement that all the e-mail submissions must be analyzed suggests that opposition parties were correct and justified in breaking the quorum on the day in question and step.
“The DA will write to the committee chairman, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, to request that due process be followed, including the presentation of a qualitative and quantitative matrix of all submissions on each clause of the Bela bill, as it has a significant impact can have on the Bela bill.”
Alana Bailey, AfriForum’s head of cultural affairs, meanwhile said in response that this civil rights organization views the portfolio committee’s turnaround as positive. However, the organization feels it is regrettable that pressure from political parties and legal input was necessary to make this possible.
Bailey says the events are in line with the majority of members of the committee’s support for clauses 5 and 6 of the bill, which want to transfer the final decision-making on schools’ language and placement policy from the hands of governing bodies to the provincial heads of education. “In doing so, democratically elected governing bodies representing the school communities will be silenced, as it were – just as the people who made an effort to give input on the bill have been almost silenced. This is an indication of the ruling party and its partners’ lust for power and contempt for the people they are supposed to serve.”
Bailey further says that AfriForum views the government’s continuous interference in school communities’ decisions about their language policy as nothing other than a breach of the agreement that was negotiated before 1994 and as a process of cultural ethnic cleansing.
“At tertiary institutions, we experienced how Afrikaans was blamed as a scapegoat for the lack of sufficient study opportunities until the pressure was so great that the Afrikaans institutions introduced double or parallel medium options. After that, it morphed into single-medium English institutions at lightning speed. Now we see how the same recipe is applied at schools. The number of Afrikaans single-medium schools is decreasing and the pressure on the rest to also accommodate English is increasing. It is a kind of neo-colonialism of a special nature that will ultimately make Afrikaans and the other indigenous languages succumb to the dominance of English and deprive children of the benefits of mother tongue education.
“It is not only unconstitutional, but also a disgrace.”