The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education will host public hearings on the Basic Education Laws Amendment (Bela) Bill in Mpumalanga this weekend as part of its nationwide public participation process.
The committee will visit three districts in the province and has invited people and organisations to come and share their views on the bill.
“This process of public participation has been widespread and informative, which gives credence to why the drafters of the Constitution included the clause in the first place. We have received from young and old who are preoccupied with the sole intention of having a public education system that is functional and serves the greater good of the country,” said Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, the chairperson of the committee.
Some of the key amendments that the Bill aims to make include:
– Making Grade R the new compulsory school starting age. At present, children must start school by the year they turn 7 (Grade 1).
– Forcing home-schooled learners to be registered for this type of schooling.
– Criminal prosecution of parents who do not ensure their child or children are at school, with fines or jail time of up to 12 months.
– Holding school governing bodies more accountable for disclosures of financial interests, including those related to their spouses and family members.
– Prohibiting educators from conducting business with the state or being a director of public or private companies conducting business with the state.
– Abolishing corporal punishment and initiation/hazing practices.
– Allowing schools to sell alcohol outside of school hours.
– Giving government department heads power over language policies and the curricula a school must adopt.
The committee has now visited three provinces, namely Limpopo, Free State and the North West. So far, most participants have highlighted their support of the Bill but objected to some of its clauses, including the clause on language policy, the definition of corporal punishment and the determination of the admission policy as proposed by the bill. There was also a complete rejection of the clause that regulates the possession, consumption or selling of liquor on school premises.
Details of Public Hearings
Date: Friday, March 17, 2023
Venue: Maviljan Hall, Bushbuckridge Local Municipality
Date: Saturday, March 18
Venue: Kanyamazane Hall
Date: Sunday, March 19
Venue: Sasol Community Recreational Centre, Ermelo