Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP
A number of serious concerns regarding the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill’s public participation process keeps increasing.
A message that has allegedly been sent by a Department of Basic Education (DBE) circuit manager in the Vhembe district in Limpopo has been brought to the DA’s attention. The message urges schools to send signed copies of the attached document to the Circuit Office, and that all educators are expected to sign it signifying their support of the draconian BELA Bill.
The past weekend’s public hearings in the North West have also been marred by the Department’s dirty tactics. Not only did principals, Chief Education Specialists (CESs), and Deputy CESs receive instructions to limit the participants to principals and school governing body (SGB) chairs, DBE representatives also tried to influence participants’ submissions at the hearings.
The DA was shocked when Department officials lobbied for the Bill and tried to persuade participants to indicate that they supported the Bill when they had raised concerns regarding individual clauses of the Bill.
It is clear that the ANC did not anticipate the public’s objection to the BELA Bill and is now trying to capture the hearings and create a perception of support.
The public hearings will continue this weekend in Mpumalanga (see dates, times and venues below) and the DA urges each and every parent, teacher, SGB member, stakeholder, or member of a community to attend their nearest meeting to raise their concerns. No member of the public may be barred access and prevented from presenting their opinion.
The DA has a number of concerns with the BELA Bill, which seeks to disempower SGBs and schools from determining their own language and admission policies. Should the ANC government succeed in bulldozing the Bill through Parliament, the Department could use it to target mother tongue education schools, as is currently the case in Verite Primary School in Mountain View, Kariega.
According to media reports, the Department is not only proposing that English be introduced as a language of instruction, but that the Afrikaans-medium primary school eventually be turned into an English-medium high school, despite vehement opposition from the community and the SGB.
Critical oversight over the public participation process and mass participation in it, is crucial to the DA and the public protecting their Constitutional rights regarding education.