Portfolio Committee accepts Bela


The controversial education law amendment bill (Bela) was accepted by the education portfolio committee on Tuesday.

Six members voted in favor of the bill and three members against it.

One of the clauses in the bill stipulates that the provincial department of education will have the final say on a school’s language and admissions policy, something that has received strong opposition from various quarters.

The bill will now be presented in the national assembly, before the nine provincial legislatures must also approve it. After that, the National Council of Provinces must vote on it, before the president can promulgate it. If all this happens before next year’s national election, the ANC can still get its way with schools. However, several organizations stand ready to challenge the amendments in court, should they be implemented in time.

Wynand Boshoff, spokesperson for education of the FF Plus, is however positive that the bill can be stopped, even before it reaches the president. “Procedural problems in the run-up to today’s vote will be investigated and likely brought to court. However, it is essential to point out that the objection to it is not primarily procedural, but substantive,” says Boshoff.

Solidarity, which has been threatening the court for a long time, says the parliamentary committee has failed in its obligation. “From comments collected in the public participation process, it is clear that the majority of participants are not in favor of the law. Yet the government insists on ignoring the public and pushing its own agenda at the expense of millions of children,” says Johan Botha, head of Solidarity’s teacher network.

He says the ANC seems to have only one goal in mind: “They stand together for the centralization of education and the hijacking of schools.”

Boshoff also believes that by accepting the amendments, the portfolio committee ignored the constitutional article on self-determination.

“The question that arises is whether the bill ignores the right to self-determination, as contained in article 235 of the Constitution. Education is regarded worldwide as a fundamental element of self-determination. Consequently, the FF Plus continues the fight against the Bela bill.”