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EDUCATION AND RECREATION SELECT COMMITTEE
12 September 2000
ADULT BASIC EDUCATION & TRAINING BILL & THE EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL: BRIEFING
Documents Handed Out
Adult Basic Education & Training Bill [B42-2000]
Education Laws Amendment Bill, [B47-2000]
These are the official minutes of the Committee Secretary, H.Salie.
Chairperson: Mr D M Kgware
The Chairperson welcomed the special delegates from Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal as well as the representatives from the Department of Education. Adv Boshoff was then requested to brief the Committee on the Bills on the agenda.
ADULT BASIC EDUCATION AND TRAINING BILL (ABET)
Objectives of the Bill
The Bill aims to regulate adult basic education and training centres as institutions distinct from institutions such as schools and further education and training institutions. Its main focus is to ensure the viability of adult learning centres.
Background to the Bill
The Bill gives effect to the provisions of Section 29(1)(a) of the Constitution, which provides that every person has the right to basic education, which includes adult basic education. The Department had done research and consulted widely and found that there are an enormous number of adults who do not have basic education. The Bill provides for the establishment of public adult learning centres and for the registration of private adult learning centres. The Bill is the result of policies initiated by the Minister, which include the Interim Guidelines for Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) Provisioning, 1995; The Adult Basic Education and Training Policy, 1997; and the Multi-Year Implementation Plan for Adult Basic Education and Training, 1997. These policies and plans address the following:
Proposals for a new ABET system
Proposals for a new ABET qualification within the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), a new curriculum, a new quality assurance framework and mechanism and the monitoring and evaluation of the adult education and training system.
Funding proposals for a new approach to adult basic education and training.
Proposals for a new governance framework for the adult basic education and training system.
The Bill places an obligation on the heads of the provincial departments of education to provide facilities for the use of a public centre to perform its functions. If no facilities are available, the Head of Department, in terms of section 20(1)(k) of the South African Schools Act, 1996, should request the governing body of a public school to allow the reasonable use of the facilities of the school by the public centre.
The Bill also makes provision for the MEC to merge two or more public centres into a single centre. To do this, the MEC has to give written notice to the centres in question of the intention to merge them as well as publish a notice giving reasons for the merger.
It is the responsibility of each province to determine the conditions or terms by which a school is made available to a public centre. In cases where the public centre uses school facilities to perform its functions, a representative of the school governing body and a member of the staff in question may be co-opted by the governing body of the public centre, but without voting rights.
The public adult basic education and training is to be funded from money appropriated for this purpose by the provincial legislatures.
A question was asked why the Bill does not say much on the issue of educators. Adv Boshoff responded that the Employment of Educators Act already contain provisions on the staff of the public centres.
A question was asked as to whether the centres would be operating during the day only or whether they would be open in the evening to persons who work during the day. Adv Boshoff stated that this matter would be decided by the persons who run the centre. If the centre is based on school property, then the school and centre have to agree on the ideal time, depending on the needs on the ground level.
In response to a question raised as to how the public centre would be funded, Adv Boshoff referred to Chapter 4, clause 23.
EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL
Objectives of the Bill
The Bill provides for the amendment of:
a) The South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995;
b) The South African Schools Act, 1996;
c) The Employment of Educators Act, 1998, and
d) The Further Education and Training Act, 1998.
The South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995, is amended so as to increase the representation of trade union members in the Authority from two to three.
The South African Schools Act, 1996, is amended in order to:
i) Enable the MEC to expropriate property in terms of section 58 of the Act instead of the Expropriation Act, 1975, which prescribes strict procedures to be followed during the expropriation process; and
ii) Make room for the interim governance of a new public school until a governing body is constituted in terms of the Act.
iii) The Employment of Educators Act, 1998, is amended in order to empower the Head of Department to employ educators in cases where there is no governing body or a council constituted in terms of the relevant Acts. This is to allow a new public school or a new public further education institution to have educators as soon as such a school or institution is established.
An incapacity code and procedures serve as a guide to the employer and the educator. Certain matters, which were not clear in the Employment of Educators Act, 1998, are now clearly spelt out. New innovations which are brought about by the Bill, include counselling and rehabilitation programmes for the educator.
The Bill also makes room for differentiation between serious and less serious misconduct. The disciplinary code and procedures make room for discipline to be applied in a prompt, fair, consistent and progressive way. An educator may suspend an educator immediately without any hearing for a period of 7 days with full pay. The days for the notices have been reduced so as to make a disciplinary hearing as short as possible. It will be possible to conclude such hearing within a period of 60 days. A tribunal is no longer required to conduct a disciplinary hearing.
The Further Education and Training Act, 1998, is amended so as to allow public further education and training institutions to provide for public adult learning centres and further education and training programmes until the date determined by the Minister by notice in The Gazette.
A question was asked as to the difference in the terminology between "learner" and "student". Adv Boshoff indicated that the previous use of the word "student" gave the impression of master-student relation, so hence the term was changed to learner, which is broader.
In response to a question as to why the Bill makes reference to "serious assault" instead of merely "assault", Adv Boshoff indicated that Section 17 offenses deal with specific issues of misconduct, where the person was found to have consciously acted in a certain way. In this case, the educator can be fired when found guilty.
A question was raised with regard to Clause 9, with respect to whether the period of leave for a teacher suffering from a chronic illness is set out clearly. Adv Boshoff indicated that the Employment of Educators Act deals with the whole issue of conditions of service of educators.
A concern was raised to Section 17(c). The speaker enquired to a situation whereby a young teacher is willing to marry a student in grade 12. Adv Boshoff indicated that Section 17(c) has two slants. On the one hand, it prevents teachers from taking advantage of young students and on the other it protects the rights of learners even if it infringes on the right of the individual. It would be advisable for the educator to rather wait until the learner has graduated before pursuing a relationship.
The Chairperson thanked Adv Boshoff for taking the time to brief the Committee on the two Bills and answering questions relating to them.
The Chairperson informed the Committee that members must return to their respective provinces and brief them from 27 to 29 September 2000 on the ABET Bill and Education Laws Amendment Bill. The Bills will be debated on 12 October 2000. The Chairperson moved that the negotiating be obtained by 4 October 2000 and the final mandates by 10 October 2000. Agreed to.
The meeting was adjourned.
Rev M Chabuka
Mr N M Raju
Prince B Z Zulu
Mr D M Kgware
Ms C Nkuna
Mr J O Tlhagale
The following apologies were received:
Mr L Suka; Ms S N Ntlabati; Mr B J Mkhaliphi; Mrs J Witbooi
The following persons were in attendance:
Adv E Boshoff, Director of Legal Services: Department of Education;
Mr E Segabutla, Parliamentary Officer: Ministry of Education;
Ms A Motshekga, Gauteng Legislature;
Mr K Panday, Kwazulu-Natal Legislature.
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