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The ANC and EFF members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Basic Education’s majority vote today secured the committee’s adoption of the controversial Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (also known as the Bela Bill). AfriForum is not surprised by the course of events, as it has already been clear since 2022 that the motive for the inclusion of articles on schools’ language and admission policies in the bill is not aimed at improving education in South Africa, but simply serves to promote political goals in the run-up to the national elections.
According to Alana Bailey, AfriForum’s Head of Cultural Affairs, several statements by these committee members have made it clear that they are not interested in input from the public, unless it agrees with their own ideological beliefs and agenda.
“In existing education legislation, ample provision is made for action against schools and school governing bodies that abuse language and admission policies to discriminate on the basis of race. However, this alleged discrimination is specified as the reason for the inclusion of articles 5 and 6 on governing bodies’ right to decide on these policies in the bill,” she explains.
Bailey adds that, due to the attitude of the ANC and EFF committee members, AfriForum has long since started preparing for legal action if the bill were to be passed and implemented after consideration by the National Assembly, the National Council of Provinces, and the President. At this stage, these three steps still lie ahead, and legal action therefore cannot be undertaken yet, but the preparations continue.
The bill also has many other flaws, including the financial unfeasibility of expanding compulsory pre-school education, measures that will negatively impact on homeschooling and the fact that it had been drafted long before the Covid-19 pandemic profoundly changed the educational landscape. The latter means that new developments in the field of education, such as online tuition, are not even mentioned in it.
“With their decision today, the ANC and EFF members of the committee have proven once more that they want to force the country away from mother-language education towards monolingual poor English education. These parties do not hesitate to put the youth’s future at stake in order to achieve ideological goals,” Bailey concludes.
Issued by AfriForum