Johannesburg - With the deadline for public comment on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill closing at 4pm, below is a list of the 10 most important things you need to know about the controversial bill.
The draft Bill proposes to amend the South African Schools Act, 1996 (Act No. 84 of 1996), and the Employment of Educators Act, 1998 to align them with developments in the education landscape.
The bill has caused much of a stir within the industry, with a petition being launched calling on Parliament to reject it.
The petition states that the bill was “a source of huge concern” and proposed “to strip school governing bodies (SGBs) of basically all decision-making powers regarding admission of learners, language of tuition and appointment of teaching staff”.
Here's what you need to know about the bill:
* The draft bill seeks to give the Head of Department the final authority to admit a pupil to a public school. The SGB of a public school must submit the admission policy of the school, and any amendment thereof, to the Head of Department for approval.
* According to the draft bill the code of conduct of a public school must take into account the diverse cultural beliefs and religious observances of the learners at the school and makes provision for an exemption clause, making it possible to exempt learners, upon application, from complying with the code of conduct or certain provisions thereof, on just cause shown.
* The bill also seeks to limit the powers of a SGB in regard to recommending candidates for appointment. The SGB will be able to recommend to the Head of Department the appointment of post level 1 educators only, with the selection and appointment of educators on post levels 2 to 4 being the sole responsibility of the Head of Department.
* The draft bill will also empower the Head of Department to dissolve a SGB that has ceased to perform functions allocated to if in terms of the Act, if the Head of Department has reasonable grounds to do so.
* It also stipulates that the subsidy granted to an independent school can be made subject to conditions determined by the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) of that province.
* The draft bill also seeks to prohibit educators from conducting business with the State or from being a director of a public or private company conducting business with the State, and makes it an offence for an educator to do so.
* The SGB will also be required to submit the language policy of a public school, and any amendment thereof, to the Head of Department for approval.
* The draft bill requires any SGB member to declare a direct or indirect personal interest he/she or any of his or her family members has and, under such circumstances, to be recused from the procurement of goods and services on behalf of the public school.
* It also seeks to empower the HOD to: (a) authorise officers (as defined in the SASA) to conduct an investigation into the financial affairs of a public school and after consultation with the governing body; (b) request the Auditor -General to undertake an audit of the records and financial statements of a public school.
* Finally, the bill requires the SGB to seek the approval of the MEC to enter into lease agreements, for any purpose, including loans and overdrafts which are already provided for in the said section.