New Education Laws Come Under Fire

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There have been engagements about newly published Education Laws, since the Department of Basic Education (DBE) received more than 5 000 written submissions from stakeholders and the general public. While the laws are scheduled to come into effect before the end of the year, there have been calls for changes to be made. 

 


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The Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (Bela Bill) allows the limited sale of alcohol at school functions. Equal Education Researcher, Jane Borman said that she thinks that the main reason for this would be fundraising, however, the harm outweighs the benefit.

It is for this reason that education activists and civil society groups have expressed their concern over changes in Education Laws. They also pointed out other provisions that fall under this Bill, such as the criminalisation of parents or any individual who keeps their children out of school.

The Bill does not only confirm the possibility of imprisonment of the parent but has also extended the possible period of imprisonment to 12 months, instead of the original six months under the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 (SASA).

In an interview, Borman explained:

This doesn't get to the heart of why learners are likely to not be attending school. These could be issues such as poverty, and concerns over their safety at school.

Borman added that without addressing those underlying issues, criminalising parents will only make things worse.

Equal Education Law Centre along with the Section27 Center for Child Law, the Children's Institute, and the Legal Resources center have collectively made written submissions on the Bela Bill to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education.

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