Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says the criticism levelled against the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill shows resistance towards building an inclusive non-racial and quality education system.
“The disturbing noise directed towards the [amendment bill] is tantamount to regrouping of those who would like to exclusively keep these benefits to themselves,” said MEC Lesufi in a statement.
According to reports, thousands of parents and education stakeholders have written to the Department of Basic Education to object to the draft bill. They view the bill as limiting the powers of school governing bodies (SGB) in appointing senior managers and the management of school finances.
The bill aims to place in the control of the department the determination of a school’s language policy.
The department has emphasised that South Africa cannot afford -- economically and educationally -- a single language school due to the high demand for education in a multilingual society.
MEC Lesufi said amendments to the South African Schools Act (SASA) is just the beginning of moving on from “outdated education”.
“We remain resolute and steadfast in our quest for a quality, equitable and inclusive basic education system in our country. When we declared that the doors of learning and culture should be opened for all, we meant, it should be as such.
“SGBs and some school management teams misappropriate public resources and charge sky-scraping school fees to impede access to quality education, hence these amendments,” said MEC Lesufi.
Transforming the system
Transformation is one of the major areas of concern the amendment bill seeks to address. The department said the majority of former model C schools have about 80% black learners, while the teaching staff remains white.
Several parents have registered their displeasure on how SGBs are undermining their Constitutional right to education.
The Gauteng Education Department has urged the Minister of Basic Education to extend the deadline for the submissions on the proposed amendments. The closing date for submissions was Friday, 10 November.
The department has requested submissions on the following issues:
- Rejection of single language schools;
- Review of the administration of admissions in public schools;
- Professional appointment of principals, deputy principals and heads of departments;
- Review of the home schooling programme;
- Promotion of African Languages;
- Promotion of social cohesion amongst learners;
- Rejection of a race based education system;
- Opening of doors and learning to all people and
- Access to quality education.