Cape Town - DA Federal Council chairperson Helen Zille has accused the ANC of wanting to destroy education through the implementation of the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (Bela Bill).
Zille was one of the speakers from mostly conservative parties, which included the DA, ACDP, AfriForum, and Freedom Front Plus, that protested against the adoption of the bill in its current form in Parliament.
Civil society groups such as Solidariteit and Kaapse Forum were also present at the protest.
The protest came before the National Assembly’s meeting on adopting the bill, which would cost about R16 billion to implement.
The bill aims to amend the South African Schools Act of 1996 and the Employment of Educators Act of 1998 to align them with developments in education.
The protest centred on a number of issues. Some included giving provincial heads of education power to make the final decision on a school’s language and admissions policy, therefore minimising the role of school governing bodies; prosecution of parents for not registering a child, with fines or jail time of up to 12 months; mandatory Grade R; and the regulation of home schooling with site visits and reports at the end of each phase by a qualified teacher or assessor.
Zille said: “Stop trying to destroy the governing bodies of schools that work well. Stop trying to get equality by destroying the quality in the system. You can never reach equality by destroying quality.
“The only thing you can do to achieve equality with quality is to build the capacity and improve the standards of education, and, for a change, serve the learners and not your trade union partners.”
DA spokesperson for Basic Education Baxolile Nodada said political parties with civil society organisations would “mount the mother of all court cases” up to the Constitutional Court, should the bill be passed.
Federation of Associations of Governing Bodies of South African Schools CEO Jaco Deacon said: “We’re moving back towards state schools. We’ve abandoned state schools years ago, and put the power in the hands of the parents and the public. We’ve got public schools. If we don’t protect our public schools, we’ll become state schools and state institutions.”
ACDP’s Marie Sukers said: “The ANC likes to say they are pro-poor; the EFF likes to say they are pro-poor. I want to ask South Africa to please take a recording of the Bela Bill deliberations and see who fights for the poor.”