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SELECT COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND RECREATION
26 September 2001
EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL; CULTURAL LAWS AMENDMENT BILL; GENERAL AND FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING QUALITY ASSURANCE: DELIBERATIONS
Chairperson: Mr D Kgware
The meeting was very frank and cordial in relation to the three Bills that were to be adopted by the National Council of Provinces that is the Education Laws Amendment Bill, Cultural Laws Amendment Bill and the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance. The State Law Advisors, the Director General of the Department of Education and the Deputy Director of the Department of Arts and Culture attended this meeting.
Education Laws Amendment Bill
The meeting was opened by the Chairperson who handed over to Advocate Boshoff the legal advisor for the department of Education to make comments regarding the proposed amendments.
Advocate Boshoff said that, as they were requested by the last meeting to draft the proposed amendments and they have consulted the relevant Ministry in relation to this particular Bill. The Bill has to be reconciled with the Public Finance Management Act or (PFMA). He warned that, the amendments on the misconduct of educators could not be accommodated.
Mr.Van Niekerk (Western Cape) wanted to know whether the prefect system as they happened to know it, is it going to be abolished, where the head girl and the head boy use to assist in the running of the school system.
Mr. Thami Mseleku made it clear that, it is not the intention of the Bill to outlaw any existing formations but what the Bill seeks to achieve is to establish the Learner Representative Council.
Mr. Van Niekerk said, the Bill is not practical, he asked whether is there anyway of obtaining information from the schools about how funds have been used. He further asked if the Department would not be liable for contracts entered by the Governing Bodies.
Advocate Boshoff said, this couldn't happen unless there is prior authorisation by the Department.
Prince Zulu (Kwazulu Natal) stated that, they were concerned about the mentioning of compulsory schooling fees.
Advocate Boshoff answered that by saying, the same issue was raised throughout the public hearings.
Mr. (Eastern Cape) said the concerns arises because of the notion of free education, he went further to say that, in the Eastern Cape some Principals have been brought before the disciplinary committee for sending pupils home for not paying school fees. There is a provision, which allows for not paying if the circumstances are beyond the control of the parents.
Advocate Boshoff said, it is important that he should clarify the issue, according to the South African Schools Act, Compulsory fee demand that parents pay these fees Principals are not allowed to blackmail parents through their kids, this is not in the spirit of the Act. Obligation to pay is put on the parent not on the child. School fees cannot be channeled to a Trust; parents decide where to allocate the funds because once it is in the hands of the Trust it cannot be accessed.
Mr. (North West) said they were concerned about the Bill calling parents to publish their budget guidelines for the following year on the Provincial Government Gazette, he asked how many parents do have an access to a Government Gazette, especially those from the rural areas instead of a newspaper which is more accessible.
Advocate Boshoff, said, there has to be some legal framework, it is important that they have a source of reference and he agreed that newspapers are accessible but only for few days.
Dr. Gaju (Kwazulu Natal) said they are concerned about the fact that, it seems as if they are clowning a new animal, he asked whether the School Governing Bodies have a capacity to set up Trust and raise funds, he asked whether this is sound in law.
Ms. (Western Cape) about Clause 1 of the Bill it seems to be eroding the powers of the MEC's.
Mr. Thami Mseleku responded by saying this is not new as the powers of the MEC's are subject to the national prerogatives. He also mentioned the fact that the Bill seeks to give more powers to the governing bodies as the majority of parents will be excluded from the Trusts which are run entirely by the Trustees.
Dr. Raju (Kwazulu Natal) appreciated the comment from the Director General, but he said while there may be some instances of abuse, he is of the opinion that, they are discouraging those with good intentions.
Mr. Mseleku answered that; there is mechanism in place that give powers to the MEC's to control these Trusts. Fundamentally the notion of Trusts is a Juristic person. Parents can fundraise without registering a Trust.
Advocate Boshoff added that, School Governing Bodies will not channel away funds to the Trusts but will control their own money.In the final analysis the Bill was supported by all Provinces except the Western Cape, Kwazulu Natal supported it with amendments and the Chairperson noted that.
The Western Cape did not support the Education Laws Amendment Bill because of the following concerns:
That in Clause1 of the proposed amendments, paragraph 2 interferes with the powers of the MEC.
That in Clause 6, on page 3, from line 48 to omit paragraphs (b) and (c ) and to substitute:
All trusts established from a school fund of the public school must be administered in accordance with the directions issued by the Head of Department, that are not inconsistent with the provision of the (South African Schools Act).
If the MEC deems it necessary, he or she may request the Auditor General to undertake an audit of the records and financial statements of trusts belonging to and administered by a public school.
General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Bill.
All Provinces except the Western Cape, which supported it with amendments, supported this Bill. The amendment desired is Clause 5, in subsection (3)(a), in the first line, to omit the second "with" and to substitute "within".
Cultural Laws Amendment Bill
All Provinces supported this bill except the Western Cape, Free State and Kwazulu Natal who supported it with some amendments. The Western Cape proposes that, Clause 1 on page 2, after line 14, to add the following paragraph.
Prior to making a declaration in terms of subsection (3) and (4) and in recognising the principles of co-operative governance, the Minister must consult and reach agreement with the Provincial Member responsible for Culture in the relevant Province or Local authority as the case may be.
The Chairperson noted all objections and thereafter adjourned the meeting.
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