AfriForum and the Democratic Alliance have expressed concerns over the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill. BELA was introduced to Parliament on January 10 and seeks to hand control to the department in determining a school’s language policy.
Spurred by comments made by Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who reportedly criticised those against the Bill, AfriForum urged people to sign their petition against the proposed amendments.
"It is clear that the MEC, as usual, is pursuing his polarising racial agenda while blatantly ignoring proven best practices for education, such as the importance of mother-language education. Furthermore, the MEC apparently refuses to recognise the fact that Afrikaans-speaking children belong to all races," Bailey said.
She said it is tragic when someone in a position of authority adheres to his ideological agenda so relentlessly that he sets himself up as being ignorant and unfit for the position he occupies.
"Casting suspicion on children’s need for mother-language education is dangerously polarising – the necessity of single-medium mother-language education has been indisputably proven by international education experts. His proposal to use three languages of instruction per school is doomed to fail in practice all over the world. It has been proven that where several languages are used for instruction in an institution, the strongest language eventually prevails. In other words, English in the South African context.
“This is further proof of his lack of commitment to mother-language education and the development of the country’s ten indigenous languages," Bailey added.
DA spokesperson on Education, Baxolile Nodada, added that the bill will be used to force the ANC government's "narrow agenda regarding language in schools".
"While Lesufi is touting the BELA Bill as a solution to racial divide, it is, in fact, nothing more than an extension of the ANC’s policy to vilify Afrikaans and scapegoat the language and its speakers – of all colours – for government’s continued failures in providing quality education for all in the past 28 years," he said.
Nodada said the truth of the matter is that the BELA Bill will move schools’ admissions and language policies out of the hands of SGBs, who know their communities’ needs best, into the hands of the provincial Heads of the Department of Education, with appeals to the MEC.