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The ANC welcomes the passing of BELA Bill

Published Sep 27, 2023

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Johannesburg - The ANC said it welcomes the passing of the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill by the Parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education.

The party said this development accords with the ANC’s vision of transforming their national education system to reflect the values of the Constitution and a democratic society.

The basic education sector plays a key role in shaping the minds of young South Africans so that they contribute to nation-building and socio-economic development.

The BELA Bill affirms the protection of the constitutional rights of learners by, among others, abolishing corporal punishment and making Grade R the compulsory entry point into basic education for all children. Importantly, the bill will include penalties for parents who fail to ensure that their children are in school.

The bill eliminates the loophole that has been exploited by some conservative school governing bodies (SGBs) to exclude learners based on language, which has been used as a proxy for racial exclusion.

The head of department (HoD) will in the future have the exclusive power to approve the language policies of schools.

In exercising this power, the HoD will consider the language needs of the broader community in which a school is located. In consultation with SGBs, the HoD will also become the final authority on the admission of learners into public schools.

“The ANC welcomes the clarity provided by the BELA Bill on homeschooling. New regulations will ensure the setting of basic education norms and standards for homeschooled learners, such as assessment and progression, that will be handled by qualified educators or assessors,” said ANC national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri.

She further said the ANC is pleased that wisdom prevailed in the committee and that the clauses on permitting the sale of alcohol on school premises and compelling SGB members to declare annually their financial interests as well as those of their immediate families were removed.

Bhengu-Motsiri said these clauses would have had unintended consequences and fuelled negative perceptions in society.

“The ANC salutes the Department of Basic Education and members of the portfolio committee for the maturity they have demonstrated in processing the bill. The committee has driven extensive public participation and stakeholder engagement processes. The ANC is looking forward to the bill being tabled in the National Assembly and referred to the NCOP,” said Bhengu-Motsiri.

The Star