South African Council of Educators Bill: discussion

Basic Education

08 June 2000
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Meeting report

SOUTH AFRICAN COUNCIL FOR EDUCATORS BILL: INFORMAL STAGE

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 June 2000
SOUTH AFRICAN COUNCIL FOR EDUCATORS BILL: INFORMAL STAGE

Relevant document:
South African Council for Educators Bill [B26B - 2000]

Chairperson: Professor Mayatula

SUMMARY
The parties met to consider the Bill informally. All parties indicated their support for the Bill with only the NNP raising concerns with some of the clauses. The NNP felt that the clause disqualifying union officials from being board members of the Council should be reinserted. Also, it felt that a clause to include parent organisations be included. A clause stating membership certificates should be in the language the member prefers, should be included. A clause stating that the Department should contribute to the funding of SACE should be included if the Minister has the right to approve the budget of the Council. The Council should have an appeal panel in its disciplinary committee.

The Committee agreed to meet and vote on the Bill on 12 June 2000.

MINUTES
The Chairperson reminded members that this was an informal stage to get a feel of the parties' positions on the Bill.

Mr R van den Heever (ANC) pointed out that the Bill has already been considered in the NCOP where all the parties are represented.

The Chair put the motion of desirability on the table which was moved by the ANC and seconded.

Clauses 1, 2, 3 and 4 were agreed to by all the parties.

Clause 5
Advocate Gaum (NNP) said in subsection (d)(ii) as in subsection (c)(iii)(cc) after the words "removed from the register" he would like to have the words "for a specified period or indefinitely" inserted.

Mr Boshoff, Head of Legal Services: Department of Education, said this is a technical matter which he believes can be effected since there is merit to it.

Clause 6
Advocate Gaum said he would like the provision that says nominees may not be union officials reinserted. He also wanted provision made for parent organisations to be represented on the Council. He asked Mr Boshoff to clarify the inclusion of the provision that disqualifies a person removed from an office of trust by a court from being nominated or appointed as member of Council.

Mr Boshoff said the intention of disqualifying a person removed from office of trust is to provide for a situation where a director becomes insolvent and has been removed from office of trust by a court of law.

Mr Boshoff added that specific representation has been granted to governing bodies in the Bill. Including parent organisations as another category would cause difficulties as those not represented by governing bodies are few.

Advocate Gaum said that a provision to say that of the 5 nominees by the Department of Education "one must be a member of the non-organised profession" would cover his concerns.

Mr van den Heever said the ANC accepts Clause 6 as it stands in its entirety.

Clause 7
Mr Ntuli (DP) said appointment of Chairperson by the Minister has its merits, but the Minister is not without interests either. Council should in its first meeting appoint its chairperson to bring about a sense of ownership of the chairperson by the Council.

Clauses 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 were agreed to.

Clause 14
Advocate Gaum said he could not understand why a matter has first to be dealt with by a "relevant panel" then the disciplinary committee. Instead he would like to have included in the Bill a different panel for appeal, which could involve the chairperson of the Council. Currently the only procedure left for an aggrieved party would be to seek review by a court of law.

Advocate Boshoff said the panels do the bulk of the work in the hearings which is mainly investigation. Since there are so many educators the Bill provides for different panels to carry out investigation and make recommendations to the disciplinary committee. The disciplinary hearing, which is the second layer of the hearing considers the matter and makes its recommendations to the Council which is the final layer. This way three review layers are built into the system of the hearing. An argument had been raised by the State Law Advisors against an appeal panel within the Council. The view is that the Council would still be the same legal entity for hearing an appeal and this would lead to a conflict of interest. There is nothing in the Constitution against the approach taken in the Bill.

Advocate Gaum wanted to know how these panels are composed and how they work.

Advocate Boshoff said they are formed by the disciplinary committee according to its work. It is the Council's responsibility to do deal with the panels and they can even include non-educators to enable them to better do their work.

Clauses 15, 16, 17, 18 were agreed to.

Clause 19
Advocate Gaum said where the Minister must approve the budget there should also be included a requirement that the Department should contribute to the funding of the Council, not leaving poor educators to do so.

Mr Boshoff said the wording of the Bill is such that the Council can get funding from any source. The Government may assist where it sees a need to in the funding of SACE as the wording is wide enough to allow it to do so. However the drafters did not want to put an obligation that the Government should contribute.

Advocate Guam said he felt it is the duty of the Department to contribute to the funding of SACE.

Ms Njobe (ANC) said it is not unusual for Parliament not put an obligation in law for government to provide funds for professional councils. She made an example of the Nursing Council saying the government does contribute where a need arises.

Clauses 20, 21, 22, 23 were agreed to.

Clause 24
Advocate Gaum said he would like the clause to state that the certificate would be issued in the language preferred by the educator.

Mr Boshoff said the original wording of the Bill had been amended as a pragmatic approach with no intention of playing down any language.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) said that what Mr Gaum required to be put in the Bill was in fact an administrative function. He felt that this does not need to be provided for in legislation.

Mr van den Heever said putting all rights in legislation would make legislation cumbersome.

Clauses 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 were agreed to.

A meeting to vote on the Bill was scheduled for 10h00 on Monday, 12 June 2000.

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