SECTION27 commends education department on education bill

11 January 2018 - 17:02 By Ernest Mabuza
School desks
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

SECTION27 has commended the Basic Education Department on its efforts to ensure the transformation of basic education and improve access to learners who struggle to gain access to a quality education.

Commenting on the draft Basic Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill‚ SECTION27 said there had been ongoing power struggles between provincial education departments and the school governing bodies (SGBs) of historically advantaged schools.

“In most of these cases‚ SGBs have sought to use their powers in a manner that entrenches historical patterns of privilege‚” SECTION27 said in its submissions.

The proposed bill‚ which was released to the public for comment in November‚ seeks to determine who has the final say on the admission of pupils and that the department will be the body that determines a school's language policy.

It seeks to limit the powers of the governing bodies in regard to recommending candidates for appointment.

A memorandum accompanying the bill said the department wants the current act to be amended so that provincial education department heads have the final say on the admission of pupils to public schools.

SECTION27 said the core amendments in BELA were aimed at ensuring that SGBs did not act solely to protect narrow interests but were obliged to be cognisant of broader needs of education to ensure that every learner had access to a quality basic education.

“SECTION27 supports this principle unequivocally and therefore the necessity for reform of the existing legal framework‚”

The organisation said a concern about the policy-making functions of SGB was that requiring the approval of the provincial head of department (HOD) in each and every language or admission policy was likely to open the floodgates to litigation.

It said the proposed amendments raised the issues around the practicality of giving the provincial HODs a duty to approve the SGB policies.

“As a functionary‚ the HOD already has a number of duties. To add the review and approval of SGB policies to this position may therefore create numerous challenges.”

It said there might be backlogs for approvals causing policy uncertainty in schools.

Thursday was the last day for the public to make comments on the draft bill.


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