Public hearings on the cards for Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, 28 November 2017
The Department of Basic Education has today briefed the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education regarding progress on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill.
The Deputy Minister of Basic Education Mr Enver Surty said the Department was currently processing the inputs from members of the public which would further inform the direction DBE would take. He said the process was still at an early stage and would still come to Parliament for further consultation, deliberation, and persuasion. Surty said change is difficult and the Department was aware of that but that engagement is also important.
He said however there had been Constitutional Court cases in the Basic Education sector that the amendments sought to affirm in terms of the locus of authority. The Deputy Minister said there was a legal, moral and historical context to the amendments. He told the Portfolio Committee that the department had committed to canvassing diverse input through an inclusive process. “We are not going to curtail public participation we will instead encourage it because we want to hear what people have to say,” he said.
The Director General Mathanzima Mweli told the committee that the department was pleased with the responses received. Mr Mweli was responding to the remarks made by the Portfolio Committee chairperson Mrs Nomalungelo Gina who said her committee invited DBE to brief about progress thus far. Mrs Gina said her committee was also considering holding public hearings on the amendments based in the huge interest the bill has attracted.
The Acting Chief Director for Legal Services at DBE, Mr Chris Leukes, explained the rationale for the various amendments and the implications for each one. Leukes said during 2013 the Minister had appointed a Task Team to review the Basic Education legislation. The team consisted of DBE legal officials and representatives from legal units of the Western Cape, Gauteng, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal Education Departments.
The Bill contains amendments to the South African Schools Act and the Employment of Educators Act.
He said there were 46 clauses in the bill and the majority of them were not contentious. The rationale of the amendments is to clarify certain provisions that up to now created confusion.
The Bill seeks to amend clauses that affect school admission, language policy, role of school governing bodies’ compulsory attendance at school, and the power of the head of department.
Enquiries: Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275
Troy Martens – 079 899 3070
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION
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