Western Cape MEC for Education Debbie Schäfer previously said the bill was designed to achieve excellence in education. Picture: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The biggest teacher union in the country, the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), has filed a notice of motion in the Western Cape High Court challenging the constitutionality of the Western Cape Education Amendment Bill.

The controversial bill was passed in the legislature in November last year and it allows for:

* The establishment of an evaluation authority which would conduct independent evaluations.

* Donor-funded schools.

* The establishment of intervention facilities for pupils who have been found guilty of serious misconduct.

* The sale of alcohol at schools on application to the head of department.

Sadtu, which represents 250 000 teachers in the country, is challenging all the changes.

In an affidavit before the court, Sadtu provincial chairperson Jonovan Rustin argued the changes were unconstitutional and did not help in the delivery of education in the province.

Of the evaluation authority, Rustin said there was already an integrated quality management system, and that adding another mechanism would overburden teachers.

There was no evidence that donor-funded schools worked, Rustin said, adding that it could create an imbalanced education system.

Intervention facilities, which Education MEC Debbie Schäfer argues is an alternative to expulsion, would stigmatise pupils; violate national legislation relating to school suspension; and unfairly subject pupils to disciplinary interventions their peers do not have to face, Rustin argued.

Of the clause that makes provision for the sale of alcohol at schools for adult events after hours, Rustin charged that the province was already suffering from substance abuse problems.

“The Constitutional Court has held that the control of the availability of alcohol is a recognised means of combating the adverse effects of alcohol consumption and provides a rational basis for doing so,” Rustin said.

Schäfer previously said the bill was designed to achieve excellence in education.

Her spokesperson Jessica Shelver yesterday said they would oppose Sadtu’s application. “Our lawyers are currently dealing with the matter,” Shelver said.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, as well as the Speaker of the legislature, the Western Cape premier, and the minister of justice and constitutional development are also cited as respondents.

Cape Times