AfriForum’s Alana Bailey lambasted the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (Bela Bill), emphasising that it will damage the education system in the country intensely if it is still accepted in its current format.
The Bill has received mixed reactions from the public, with some supporting it and others rejecting it since it was passed by Parliament.
She said great support was expressed by the public for the bill. This is in response to the preliminary national report on Parliament’s public participation process regarding the bill.
According to Bailey, the staff members and branch members who participated in the public consultation sessions across the country, it was said there was overwhelming opposition to the bill.
"This had been expressed using thoroughly motivated submissions and not simply with populist statements such as that single-medium Afrikaans tuition is supposedly racist and hinders transformation," she said.
Apart from the public’s opinion, Bailey cautioned the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Basic Education on several provisions in the proposed bill that breached provisions of the Constitution, as well as judgments of the Constitutional Court.
"By trying to steamroll the bill through Parliament before the national elections of 2024, the door is left open for many legal actions, which are of course not paid for by the officials personally but by the State and therefore ultimately by the already overburdened taxpayers," Bailey added.
However, Bailey explained that litigation against the state would be essential to ensure that the legislation does not damage aspects such as the right of access to mother-language education, the privacy of school governing body members, limited class sizes for the sake of quality education, and the active involvement of school communities via democratically elected school governing bodies.
"Education specialists know that this is just another attempt to deprive the community of power by centralising it in the hands of the state. Instead of focusing on the state’s inability to rehabilitate its 80% dysfunctional schools, the myth is proclaimed that by giving children access to former Model C schools, all problems will be solved," Bailey said.
She stated that AfriForum’s legal team was ready to oppose the bill if it were to be passed.