Click here to view the Basic Laws Amendment Bill published 22 October 2010
Equal Education welcomes the draft amendments to the National Education Policy Act and the South African Schools Act, so as to bring these instruments in line with the creation of the Department and Ministry of Basic Education as distinct from the newly established Department and Ministry of Higher Education (previously existing under one Department and Ministry)
These amendments which seek to change material aspects of the statutes in question so as to reflect the new names of the departments and their respective political heads are necessary.
The draft amendments also go beyond merely correcting the name of the new Department and Ministry of Basic Education and their political heads. The amendments make a number of substantive changes to the statutes including: categorising schools with a special focus as schools which provide education to learners with special needs; the prohibition of non-educcational activities during school time and the prohibition of 'material of a political nature'; a limitation on the use of school property for business purposes other than for school tuckshop; and the additonal scope for the Minister to identify schools which should be 'no-fee' schools. These are a few of the aspects dealt with in the comments and suggestions below.
Equal Education is of the view that the proposed amendments are bona fide and are made with the view of improving South Africa's education system through effective regulation. Notwithstanding the above, a number of the draft amendments appear to be ill-conceived and, in the manner in which they have been drafted, would undermine this objective and in some cases may have the potential of reinforcing inequalities in education. Particular aspects of the draft Bill also unreasonably extend the power of the department and the ministry in a manner that encroaches on the responsibilities and powers of School Governing Bodies. At other times, the amendments go not go far enough tin ensuring that the critical areas of the education system are addressed by the ministry, specifically with respect to the passing of minimum uniform norms and standards regarding, amongst other things, school infrastructure.
Equal Education understands the importance of public participation in the law making process and is glad to make use of this opportunity to provide input on this matter.