Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill: public hearings

Basic Education

22 November 2022
Chairperson: Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

BELA Bill Explainer

White Paper on Education One

White Paper on Education Two

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education continued with round three of oral hearings on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELA). Eight organisations and stakeholders presented oral submissions to the Committee. This included presenters from the Governing Body Foundation (GBF), Solidariteit, SA Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA), LearnFree, Congress of South African Schools (COSAS), Banele Sifunda, South Africa Learners Command (SALC) and the National Governors Association. The presenters noted aspects of the BELA Bill which they supported, rejected, or required amendment. The concerns raised related to the SGB functions and duties as it related to admission and language policy, policy approval by the HOD, monitoring learner attendance, disclosure of financial interests, and time frames for SGB submissions. The presentations also discussed issues related to the required documents for children and issues of home education. Many presentations also noted that the best interests of the child were paramount. Law that impacts children should be child-centric, and based on the fundamental rights of the child. Equality and quality of education provision should be achieved. A number of presentations discussed issues relating to alcohol. Many presenters were vehemently against the provisions allowing alcohol to be sold at school activities for the   of fundraising. It was highlighted that provision needed to be made for regulating online schooling in the same way as there is for home schooling. This was urgent as unregulated online schooling was already happening.

The Members of the Committee asked the organisations what their proposals would be to address the challenge of undocumented learners. It was one Member’s belief that all school children should have the necessary documentation to establish where that learner was from and if they had been immunisation. It was asked if there is research from other countries where learners were attending schools without the necessary documentation. The powers of the SGB and the language policy were also raised. How should the policy be regulated, because some of the SGBs used language policy to discriminate against the recruitment of teachers and principals? It was asked if the Department did enough to ensure that all learners received the best possible quality education Would the BELA Bill ensure quality education for learners despite the threat of corruption that centralisation holds and the fact that the benefits of mother tongue education was completely ignored through the clauses that placed the determination of that with HODs? The issue of the alcohol provision in the Bill was discussed. There was basically nothing new in this piece of legislation. This piece of legislation that the provision was attached to was being blown out of proportion or it was being misconstrued. It was not the intention of the Department to sell alcohol to children. The Members noted the issue of online learning, blended learning and other modalities of learning. They argued that the Committee should legislate for the present and the future.

Meeting report

The Chairperson asked the Members and those making presentations to introduce themselves.

The Committee Secretariat read the apologies into the record.

The Chairperson said that today the Committee would be receiving submissions from the Governing Body Foundation (GBF), Solidariteit, SA Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA), LearnFree, Congress of South African Students (COSAS), Banele Sifunda, South Africa Learners Command (SALC) and National Governors Association. There would be eight organisations today.

Governing Body Foundation Submission

Dr Anthea Cereseto, CEO, GBF, made the presentation to the Committee.

The GBF identified amendments that it supported, rejected, and identified as problematic for implementation. The GBF also identified three matters for additional amendments. The presentation discussed the SGB functions and duties as they related to admission and language policy, policy approval by the HOD, monitoring learner attendance, disclosure of financial interests, and time frames for SGB submissions. The presentation also discussed the required documents of children and the issues relating to alcohol.

SGB Functions and Duties – Admission and Language Policy

The GBF accepts, reluctantly and with some reservations, that final authority for admission is given to the HOD of the PED after consultation with the SGB and after following prescribed processes for language changes.  It expected good faith.

SGB Functions and Duties – Monitoring Learner Attendance

The GBF rejects the duty given to SGBs to perform a school’s day-to-day operational function of monitoring learner attendance and applying interventions.

The school management and the PED must handle the monitoring of learner attendance. The PED can use the provisions of the proposed amendments to section 3, subject to cautions.

School Funding Implications

The GBF supports the inclusion of grade R in ‘basic education’, but this amendment cannot be passed until grade R can be fully funded and resourced.

The exemption regulations need revision to provide a capping on parents’ income level that qualifies for exemption. Parents whose income is above that level would be responsible for school fees in full, subject to a scale depending on the number of children of the parent.

Additional Amendments

Provision must be made for regulating online schooling in the same way as there is for homeschooling. This is urgent as unregulated online schooling is already happening.

(See Presentation)

Discussion

Mr E Siwela (ANC) said that public responsibility required public accountability. Corrupt intentions could not be resolved through voluntary recusal as those with such intentions would not declare. Disclosures enabled sufficient basis to act against SGB members who failed to declare. Why should reliance be on the duty of recusal without sufficient disclosure? How should the Department effectively plan and manage the education system without robust systems such as SA-SAMS (South African School Administration and Management System)? Why did the Foundation identify the Department’s role over a system prioritising SGB powers? What was its proposal for addressing the challenge of undocumented learners?

Ms M van Zyl (DA) referred to paragraph 4.5 of the Foundation’s written submission, which stated that ‘section 41(2A) might not be liked by schools trying to collect fees, but it protects parents who cannot provide details of the other parent. This section allows a parent to submit an affidavit to that effect in an exemption application. Schools will have to use other ways of tracking down these “missing” parents and not place the burden on the single parent’. What was GBF’s suggestion on how to actually do that? Under 4.6, the Foundation said that ‘section 21(3A) provides for central procurement despite the right of SGBs to purchase LTSM (Learning and Teaching Support Material). However, it must be done in consultation with the SGB’. Did GBF think it should not be decentralised to SGBs because schools would get their LTSM as late as August in the school year?

Dr W Boshoff (FF+) asked how GBF differentiated itself from other SGB organisations. He referred to the principles of the White Paper which the presentation mentioned. As he had stated in previous hearings, South Africa was 30 years past that now and South Africa was making a new settlement. What was before everyone was the Government’s proposal. People had to push back. It was a new settlement. People should not underestimate this process. It was essential. It was back to 1996. It was back to really laying the groundwork. GBF said that it expected good faith from the Department, why? He discussed policies. His own career as a teacher was in independent schools. What it had to submit in a three-year paper war most public schools never did. Most public schools did not equal the same standards. He responded to GBF’s whole idea of attendance from parents which was not very popular. That may seem like an admission that maybe SGBs should not have all that authority, because they had to be parent-driven organisations and the parents did not pitch up. So, why did parents need all that authority if they did not exercise it? He had his own guess about it and that was that parents wanted a veto right. Parents did not necessarily want to decide. They wanted a veto right. Once the decisions were made by the province or the Department then they did not have the veto right anymore. He discussed the issue of alcohol. It was long ago that he had heard so much sense in such a short space of time. He liked the GBF’s slogan, ‘to be the thought leader in cooperative school governance’. It was something to commend.

Mr B Nodada (DA) said he needed to clarify a few things because there seemed to be a principle that said decision-making needed to be decentralised to SGBs. Parents and communities knew what was best for their children but do it in partnership with the responsible departments. That was the principle that he had picked up throughout the presentation. School-based decision-making should be encouraged. The presentation said that GBF supported with reluctance the decision for HODs to approve policies. Was he understanding GBF correctly that as a compromise schools should determine their language and admission policies; however, the mechanism of approval should still be there with the condition of 90 days? If that was not the case, then it would be interesting to get to the bottom of that. Based on GBF’s principle of school-based decision-making, and decentralising authority how was that married with the compromise of saying that there must be approval? GBF then went on to say that the HOD could not be both a player and a referee in the instance of approving the policy and then being the appeal mechanism. Why was there a reluctance to accept the proposal for the HOD to approve policies? What would be GBF’s recourse mechanism in terms of the appeals process that existed? Sections 22 and 25 in the SA Schools Act were used as a recourse where schools may use their language and admission policies to exclude certain learners. Would it not be correct to marry with the principle that GBF had said throughout its presentation that the decision to determine language and admission policies should solely remain with the SGBs with a recourse mechanism that already existed in sections 22 and 25 of the Act? If there were specific cases, then parents that might be affected by that may then utilise that recourse to appeal. He wanted to get a clear understanding of the GBF’s position on that. He discussed SA-SAMS. He could not agree with GBF more. He recently had an engagement with 17 countries over four continents that spoke about why it was important to focus teaching and learning on the individual learner, rather than focusing on a particular curriculum that was congested. What would be GBF proposed alternative to the current system that was being used to pace through the curriculum? He discussed compulsory grade R education. On a principled basis, it was being supported. He mentioned during all the hearings that the Committee had that there was still no determination from National Treasury on whether that would be practically implementable. Ultimately, there would be a constitutional case. Parliament could approve the law and everyone could principally agree, but if it was not implementable then there would be a constitutional case. Would GBF agree that there should be some mechanism to hold the Department accountable if grade R was not practically implementable? What would that look like? He noted that there had been some research done by Lithuania about providing school vouchers to parents to use those school vouchers to take their children to either public or private early childhood development centres. Was that a mechanism that could be used to practically implement compulsory grade R education as a way of empowering parents to make a choice on where they sent their children? He noted that Ms van Zyl covered his questions on centralised procurement. He discussed GBF’s proposal that there had to be mandatory statutory structures that existed for the Department to consult on a compulsory basis. Where would that be located in the amendments of the Bill? So that when GBF made the proposal, the Committee knew where the law was to be amended.

Ms N Adoons (ANC) discussed the powers of the SGB and the language policy. How should the policy be regulated, because some of the SGBs used language policy to discriminate against the recruitment of teachers and principals? In the view of GBF, how could that be corrected or regulated? She discussed the issue of undocumented learners. It was her belief that all school children should have the necessary documentation to establish where that learner was from and some challenges of immunisation. Children needed cards to identify whether they had been immunised for diseases. How could that process be done in order for children to have the necessary documents for undocumented learners? Where did GBF source its research from? Was there research from other countries where learners were attending schools without the necessary documentation?

The Chairperson asked Adv Misser to clarify the example of listening to 55 CVs. There was an issue GBF raised of 55 CVs. She asked Adv Misser to clarify if that was acceptable. She wanted the Department’s views on that matter. She discussed the matter of SA-SAMS (South African School Administration and Management System). The presentation noted that paragraph 3.12 of the White Paper envisaged decentralisation with regard to SA-SAMS. What was the issue that GBF had with SA-SAMS as a system? Which communities did the GBF represent? Did the foundation represent all the communities in the country? What were the quintiles of the schools that the SGBs were representing? Was GBF representing from grade R to grade 12 and in which communities? It was a question she randomly asked most organisations that came to Parliament. What was the contribution of the foundation to the transformation agenda of the country? Her observation was that most of these organisations were formed in 1996. She noted the issue with the documents. Which countries allowed learners who were undocumented to be part of their schools? If the GBF’s view was that the documents that were asked were the wrong documents, then what were the right documents? She discussed the matter of school funding. GBF said that this amendment could not be passed until grade R was fully funded and resourced. What proposal was GBF bringing to the table? What did GBF think should be done by Government that would be enough or necessary to fund grade R? She went back to the issue of documentation. Everyone understood that in terms of multilateral cooperation, each country had an ambassador consulate office or a high commissioner. What was stopping the foreign parents from approaching the consulate or the embassy of their countries to assist with the documentation of learners? She noted that no parent would wake up and decide to move their children without documentation. There were processes in making these decisions. She raised this because it looked like presenters were making this problem of documentation a Department of Basic Education problem and it was not. It was a problem of the Department of Home Affairs. Everyone needed to put their heads together on the matter of undocumented children. What type of country allowed undocumented learners into schools? Had GBF checked what were the statistics of alcohol abuse in the country, and amongst learners in particular? What was the impact of alcohol usage on learners of school-going age? 

Dr Cereseto responded to the question of public accountability and voluntary disclosure. The same argument that Mr Siwela used applied to the disclosure. If they did not voluntarily disclose in a meeting, then they would not voluntarily disclose if it was in the Act. Now there would be a punishment if one did not disclose. Then a sanction would apply. She did not see it there. Dishonesty was rife. People’s financial interests needed to be known. GBF had advice that it gave its SGBs. It had forms that SGBs had to fill in before the start of each SGB meeting. It gave those kinds of exemplars to people. Members needed to sign that they had no financial interests in the agenda items that were to follow. There were a few other disclosures that were asked as well. The GBF attempted to do that. Procurement policies needed to be rigorous. SGB members needed to be upskilled so that they could take care of their businesses. She noted that Government schools had lots and lots of policies. Some provinces required them to be approved. Some provinces required them to be in evidence. There were plenty of controls in Government schools. She believed most of the problems lay in districts that were responsible for schools not being able or willing to exercise their district functions of monitoring and oversight of what goes on. That was where it needed to happen. Those district officials needed to know what their schools were doing. They could monitor the curriculum coverage. They could monitor the adherence to the policy and law so that was no discrimination. There were many people who thought that a lot of discrimination was happening. When there was evidence of it the district could follow up and take action. There was lots of room for robust control, but there was a need to capacitate SGBs to act within the terms of the law. South African citizens needed to know the Constitution a lot better and then a lot of trouble would be avoided. Then those who were elected needed to be trained properly. She discussed what this SGB organisation did which was different from other SGB organisations. The GBF was strong on training and tried to empower SGBs to do what was required but to do so within the law. It tried to work with everybody in a cooperative manner. If there was a challenge in the school with the parents, then it tried to work cooperatively. If there was a challenge with an official in the Department then it tried to work cooperatively. It did not immediately go to court on a matter. It wished to solve a matter at the lowest level. That was why the presentation noted that the GBF accepted that the HOD had the right to do the language and admission policy. It accepted it. It would let that authority stand, but it needed to do so in consultation. That was why it asked for a statutory compulsion to have a consultation of national matters and provincial matters. That was to enable the consultation. Its approach was consultation and empowering of the people. It had a website. It conducted physical training for its members. It answered the questions of schools by email and on the phone every day, whether it was from SGB members or school principals. Even the district officials asked them questions which meant that the officials were applying things that they did not have knowledge of. The district could be the that helps the system be more robust without taking power away from the SGB. Clearly the problem of undocumented learners was something that Parliament was facing. Almost all the Members had referred to the undocumented learners. It was not an education problem. This was a problem of another Government Department. There was need for cooperation to an extent, but to put the responsibility on schools was a problem. There were many cases where asylum seekers and refugees did not come with any documents and could not send in applications forms for a birth certificate to a country that they had run away from. GBF had put it in writing. The Committee needed to hear the voice of the organisations that worked with the undocumented learners. However, there was a constitutional judgement that every school going age child in the country was entitled to education in the country. There was that right to basic education for everyone who was in the country. People were here and whether they should be or should not be here was not the education sector’s problem. It was the problem of other people to restrict the entry of undocumented people into the country, except for the asylum seekers and refugees. It also took time for them to get the right documents. She heard the problem that was facing the country. It was a problem in schools because schools actually also did not want all the undocumented learners because it was claimed they took up the space of other children and making the schools too full. The fact was that there was a judgement and in the Constitution it said that children must be educated. She could not go further on her recent submission on undocumented learners.

She discussed the missing parents. For the missing parent, the GBF would follow the credit agencies. There were other sources used to try and track down parents. Parents could be tracked down through cell phone accounts and the use of agencies. It cost schools to do that search of a parent. Many schools paid to track those parents. She discussed the LTSM being decentralised. She would prefer that to be entirely decentralised. GBF could accept central procurement provided it happened after consultation and provided that the price being paid was a better price. At one stage there was a particular provider in Gauteng where it cost R17 for a pencil or there was an example of a tennis ball that was supplied which could not bounce. GBF did not want that kind of central procurement. It also did not want one book because the school might decide that there was a better textbook, because it suited that school community better. Decentralising was the preference but if it helped financially, there was good quality paper, and it would last then it was an option to centrally procure. GBF really supported its schools. That was really important. It would answer its phones on a Friday afternoon. It had structures in place. It had staff in place. It had well-educated and experienced people giving advice to the schools that phoned. There were other organisations that just did not have the structures to do that. Which is why it wanted more members to be able to empower more. The reason why GBF had good faith in the Department was because of court judgements that forced the Department to do certain things. She discussed parental attendance. It was a trust issue. When they trusted the school and things were going well then they would tell the school to get on with it. Parents would come for meetings that concerned their children and things that they had concerns about. If there was a new policy and it was a little controversial then parents might come to that meeting because they wanted to hear and give their opinion. She did not think that it was because of the veto. GBF wanted to work together so that the partnership was the emphasis, rather than centralised control and prescription. GBF encouraged its members to do what was right. There was a law on non-discrimination and SGBs needed to apply it. If they did not, then the district should come in, compile a report, and then they could follow it up. The district needed to be the structure that made sure Government policy was being implemented. She saw the confusion with the 90 days. GBF said that there was no need to submit for approval. If the school did something wrong, then the district needed to follow up. She referred to an amendment, section 61(b)(2). It related to the policies which were allowed to be promulgated. They now put in a sanction, fine, or imprisonment not exceeding six months, for people who did not adhere to policy. If there was a national policy on admissions, national policy on finance, national policy on staff selection and it was detailed by the provinces, but not in conflict with the broad principles, then there could be a sanction to deal with people that did not stick to the policy. She provided an example. If the Minister published policy on learner pregnancy and it said that schools could not withhold the learner’s right to education. Then the school said the pregnant learner could not write matric exams. Then there was a sanction preventing the child from writing the matric exam. She felt that this particular clause was a bit dangerous because it could be abused. There were many current regulations and current laws which were not being implemented by certain parties, such as funding and determining the norms for special schools. Those things had not been done. There was a policy that had not been implemented by the Department. There would be a situation where people would be punished through BELA for not sticking to the various policies that the Minister may publish yet there were current things that were not being adhered to and there was no sanction. Both sides needed to have consequences but she was not sure how that would work.

She discussed SA-SAMS. SA-SAMS could serve the purpose of monitoring where schools were and what had been accomplished. She noted the dashboards. She was not keen on them but it was acceptable. One could see where a school was positioned in terms of how functioning they were. When it came to curriculum coverage one could see that a specific school was falling behind. When the Bill said that a school had to input in that column by that date whether that child had learned or not learned, the school had to give an assessment, and then the teacher had to move on. That was hindering real education. Schools were going faster than some children could learn. Rather, let the mark be entered when the learning had happened even if the school had to be marked as amber or red. There were ways of managing. However, one could not have a computer system determining how faster a learner learned.

She discussed compulsory grade R and what GBF had as a suggestion. The Department could implement sections but not this section. This section could be held until it was possible to finance. South Africa was in a bad space at the moment with the financing of education. There were cutbacks to departments. KZN could not fund posts. Schools were six to eight down in some areas. Funding grade R was a problem. Some of the provinces had tried to explain how they were going to do it. As an organisation it did not have much power or knowledge on how the financial budget could be worked out across all the national demands. It emphasised that grade R was extremely important. Where possible, one should make it happen because too much attention was paid to grade 12. In fact, if less attention was paid there and there were fewer cramming sessions, and more of that money was sent downstream to grade R then there would not be a need for camps in grade 12. The funding of education was upside down, but the public wanted the Department to account in January. Everyone was looking at the matric pass rate, but people were not looking at what was happening to the five-year-olds and how much they were being prepared. It was for the Members to push for grade R. There was universal agreement. Every country in the world would say the same. How could you fund grade R in an austerity age? She did not know.

She discussed language. She believed that this could be dealt with at a local school level and district level. When it was seen that communities were changing adjustments needed to be made in language policy in order not to discriminate. The law was there. The policy was there. SGBs needed to implement the policy. SGBs needed organisations like GBF to help them know their duties. That was what GBF tried to do. GBF gave examples on its website of policies that would pass legal scrutiny. If SGBs applied policy, then they would not end up doing things that they should not do. She noted that undocumented learners had a constitutional right. All children of school-going age in the country must attend school.

She discussed the 55 CVs. If there was an advertisement for a principal, then people applied. There could be 55 applications or there could be five. The principle was that there was a collective agreement. The ELRC had a collective agreement on how it needed to be done. In one province they had gone into that collective agreement at a provincial level to such detail that it was just not possible to choose properly. That hindered everyone.

She discussed the organisation and who it represented. It started off as an organisation supporting English-speaking ex-model C schools when there was a case. Schools put together a case, which they won. The case was won, and the organisation just developed from there. It originally started with English-speaking schools but then it expanded. In the Western Cape 51% of its schools were not ex-model C schools. It had quintile one to three schools in all of the provinces it served. It was just whether the SGB of the school was willing to go with the organisation. It may be different to some organisations that they might have heard of. It had a fee which was a national fee. It had discounted rates based on the affordability of the school. In the Western Cape, the Department paid the funding and subsidised the schools membership. Unfortunately, at the moment, it was only the Western Cape Education Department that did it. Eastern Cape had promised it but that had not been seen yet. The other provinces had not. The Western Cape helped fund because that was provided for in SASA. They discussed the issue of alcohol. GBF knew a lot about alcohol abuse in the country. It did not deny that there was a real problem. If schools did not want it then they did not need to have it. The provision allowed it. The SGB made the decision. If that school did not want children anywhere near alcohol, then that school did not even go to that amendment. Schools needed to make a decision based on its needs and realities. Another school would choose it. It was never to enable learners to drink the alcohol. There was no way if this was approved that children would have access to it. If it was such a disorganised, dysfunctional school that allowed children near alcohol then the HOD could deny that permission. It was easy to manage. The Department should not make rules for everybody when it might not be necessary for everybody.

The Chairperson thanked GBF for its submission. The Committee noted what had been presented. It would be part of the report that the Committee would do next year sometime after it was done with the public hearings.

Solidariteit Submission          

Mr Connie Mulder, Head of the Solidarity Research Institute, Solidariteit, and Ms Johnell van Vollenhoven, Policy Analyst and Researcher, Solidariteit, made the presentation to the Committee. The presentation noted that more schools needed to be built in South Africa. There were currently more learners than seats available. There needed to be smaller classrooms with more qualified educators, more resources and infrastructure. Solidariteit supported mother tongue education, language development and active teaching. It also supported a decentralised system. There needed to be parent involvement and responsibility, community involvement. It supported less State involvement and more SGB powers.

(See Presentation)

Discussion

Mr Siwela noted that Solidariteit was of the opinion that the amendments as proposed in the BELA Bill was an attack on functional schools, especially within the Afrikaans community, which had been successfully governed by SGBs. He said that the presentation was based on this premise. What he found problematic with regard to the submission was the narrow contextualisation of the Bill in relation to specifically schools within the Afrikaans community. One of the critical philosophical tenants of the constitutional democratic order was creating a South African national. Therefore, it was critical to view legislation from a national context and then assess whether it could act as an impediment or not. As far as the ANC was concerned, the BELA Bill sought to strengthen the system in the interest of the child beyond ethnicity. White Paper One located education and training within the national reconstruction and developmental programme, and outlines the new priorities, values and principles for the education and training system. Government was making authority as per the White Paper Two it referenced in its submission. Was he correct in saying that? Solidariteit also indicated that what South Africa needed was more schools, more mother tongue teaching and a decentralised system. Recently, it had been learned that in the Eastern Cape examinations in various subjects had started to be given in Xhosa. That was beginning to happen. In what way were the proposed amendments in the BELA Bill stifling mother tongue teaching or suggest that more schools would not be built in the future? He wanted to know how Solidariteit arrived at such a conclusion.

Ms M Sukers (ACDP) said that she enjoyed the animation in the presentation. She commended the use of the parent-child example. It was a very apt example. It was very appropriate with regard to controls and responsibilities. How does one cater to a changing community, because communities were changing all the time? There was the reality of undocumented learners and new learners who came into communities. How does one cater to those learners, especially since Solidariteit stressed the need for more schools? She wanted to hear the opinion of Solidariteit on that. How did it propose communities catered for that? She provided the example of Prince Albert. It was an Afrikaans community. With the influx of the various groupings of people, that either came from Zimbabwe or Ethiopia, documented or undocumented, it was no longer just an Afrikaans community. How did Solidariteit respond to that? What was Solidariteit’s view in terms of the experience of the Afrikaans-speaking community that had been excluded in single language schools? She could speak good Afrikaans, but her child would be on the waiting list. She had experienced that personally. As people went through the different provinces it was important to speak about uncomfortable topics. It was an uncomfortable truth. She had struggled to get her children into school, and she spoke Afrikaans well. She had been raised Afrikaans. She raised her children English and put them in English schools. It was important for the communities that this was responded to. She discussed the claim made in the presentation of single language schools being full and other schools not. She was not sure she understood and asked for that statement to be clarified. It referred to the schools in Pretoria. She noted that a lot of schools were being closed. What was Solidariteit’s comment on those schools Government was closing because there were less than 135 learners in those schools? What were its proposals in those communities?

Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) said that in any democracy the majority shall rule but the views of the minority should be respected. The Constitution projected nation-building. Hence, South Africa was viewed as a unitary state and not as a federal state. There was one South Africa with enough room for diversity to unfold. He believed that every single piece of legislation sought to address that. In the end, there needed to be a South Africa as a nation. It was therefore going to be critical to view every piece of legislation from a national context rather than from the other way around. The intention of this Bill was to strengthen the education system in its entirety for the child, beyond an ethnic background. If the Members were to project any piece of legislation from an ethnic view, then they would not be building the nation. That would be a federal approach to a unitary state. His first question was based on those SGBs whose challenges would need the intervention of the State. He had seen a different number of SGBs. There were SGBs that would warrant the need, intervention, and support of the State because of the type of challenges that they met. Then there might be those SGBs who were self-sufficient and did not need any form of intervention from the Government. Regardless of that, these two types of SGBs were under one umbrella of the same Department of the State. Did Solidariteit realise that there were SGBs that were confronted with various challenges that impacted on the functioning of their schools which enabled a need for direct intervention of the State for education to be fully realised? Did Solidariteit realise that there were those SGBs with those challenges? From the presentation, it seemed like there were provisions in the Bill which barred SGBs from decision making processes. Which were those provisions in this Bill that did not include the participation of the SGB?

Ms van Zyl asked Solidariteit if the Department did enough to ensure that all learners received the best possible quality education. Would the BELA Bill ensure quality education for learners despite the threat of corruption that centralisation holds and the fact that the benefits of mother tongue education was completely ignored through the clauses that placed the determination of that with HODs?

Dr W Boshoff (FF+) said that he would like to engage with Mr Moroatshehla, but Mr Moroatshehla did not present so he could not. He discussed the role of the State in schools. He thought that the State should be involved a bit less in the development of curriculum. He did not know whether people really realised that from grade 7, or even earlier, all schools did exactly the same book every quarter in every language. It was silly. The teacher could not even decide that if the school was more rural-based then a different book would resonate better with the learners. It had all been prescribed. He noted that everything was centralised in South Africa’s schooling system. He divided the curriculum into two parts. The hidden curriculum was not exposed by anybody but it was there. The teacher said, ‘you are important. You must believe in yourself. You are important. What is your name again?’. The hidden curriculum said that learners were insignificant, whatever the teacher said. This was because the school’s scale was just too huge. The Department wanted to close down schools with 150 learners while those are the schools where children learned to be significant. He noted that schools with ten children worked in an educational way. He noted the two exit grades, grade 9 and grade 12. He understood that there needed to be common literature books and things to be examined otherwise the examination could not be external. For the rest, it should all be internal given that there were professional teachers. That goes back to what Solidariteit actually said. That the Department should deal with the schools that did not function well, but leave the others and the teachers to be professionals who had the capacity to act professionally. That was not an ethnic kind of description, as Mr Moroatshehla deducted. He did not deduce that from what Solidariteit said. He noted that the additional clause that would emancipate the successful schools was a real contribution to the discussion. It was something that had not been presented by any other presentation yet. The issue of language was terribly complicated. Much more than one would just think of looking at international studies and seeing what UNESCO said. The whole idea of mother tongue education was perceived in the previous dispensation as a policy of divide and rule. While Afrikaners used the 20th century to empower themselves by using mother tongue, black people perceived the push for mother tongue education as Afrikaners denying them the common black identity. It was seen as dividing black people into different ethnic or tribal identities. Therefore, education in English and not in mother tongue was perceived as an activist exercise of emancipation. That was a problem. His neighbour was involved in education until he retired. In 1994, he was a mathematics teacher in black education. He had mathematics textbooks until standard ten in isiXhosa. It was discarded after 1994 because the Government said that there was no need for maths books in isiXhosa. That was one of the big problems that the country worked with. The question about discrimination was difficult. First some people thought that scrapping discrimination meant that they were not going to pay white children more for their education than a black child, as had been the case. Each child would be paid the exactly the same amount. Then the idea came forward that that was not good enough and that the past should be redressed. Then there were no-fee schools which Government spent more money. It was no longer ethnic or anything. It was either a no-fee school or a fee-paying school. This created the idea that the nanny state would care. It turned some parents to be more apathetic regarding education. While in other schools it created this urgency for them to take control of their schools because no one else was going to do it. Those communities performed much better in their schools. That was then regarded as discrimination because why did this school perform so much better, it must be discrimination. It was not. It was about the dedication of the community. That was not a race or an ethnic thing. It was a response by a community to different impulses. In that sense, he though Solidariteit struck the nail on the head by saying that the Department should focus on schools that did not work and emancipate those who could demonstrate the ability to work.

Ms D Van Der Walt (DA) said that she would speak from the heart and as an activist member of Parliament. There could not be an argument, whether one liked the language or not. Afrikaans was an indigenous language of South Africa. It was also the most developed scientific language. People continued to make it a, ‘you and us’, between Afrikaans and the rest of the languages in the country. Parliament needed to develop all the other languages to that scientific level as well, through education and beyond. She noted from the previous presenter that maybe the Committee should get in the Department of Home Affairs to learn about undocumented learners. The Committee needed to research things, beyond the Bill, to further its own knowledge and see which actions it could take. Solidariteit had a brilliant track record of education if one looked at Sol-Tech. Maybe the Committee should visit Sol-Tech. During the Covid period, there was a plea from rural schools in Limpopo and Solidariteit assisted rural schools in Limpopo with what they needed. When the Committee had guests, the Members needed to open their minds and concentrate on what they stood for and what they presented. All of it might not be what the Members liked, individually or as a group. She had learned a few things from Solidariteit’s presentation. She noted smaller classrooms. It could never be doubted that a ratio of 1-25 was better than a ratio of 1-50. It could never ever be argued to be wrong. What was the Committee doing to accommodate that? The SGBs recognised it. There was a message to the Department, but it went with a lot of resources and the will to fix it. It was known that there were struggling SGBs. Many schools did not want training of SGBs or interference on the election of the members of SGBs. Would Solidariteit, with its expertise, assist the Department or provinces or schools who did not have assistance? Would Solidariteit train them and have some sort of relationship with them? If SGBs were good, then a lot would be achieved. She also put the same question to languages. English and Afrikaans schools were catered for, although some languages were being attacked. There was only one province who added another South African language. That was in the Eastern Cape and the language was isiXhosa. None of the other languages were promoted at a school level in the same way that was started with isiXhosa. If the Members discussed all the languages equally then they were doing what the Constitution of the country was expecting them to do. With all of Solidariteit’s experience and expertise in building Sol-Tech, how would they also assist across the country to get positive development in mother tongue education to learners? Everyone needed to contribute to all mother tongue language users and the education of those. She noted that Mr Nodada had just been to another country where mother tongue education was discussed. The presenters still spoke their own language. They were taught in their home language, and they still practiced their careers in their home language. That was something that Solidariteit should assist with in South Africa. 

The Chairperson said that Solidariteit kept on mentioning the issue of the White Paper. That was the first policy document on education and training by South Africa’s first democratically elected Government. The White Paper represented only the first step on a long road. Therefore, the assertion from Solidariteit that the Bill’s direction was betraying 1994 was misinterpreted. The White Paper alluded to transforming the legacy of the past. However, there was no plan or transition that was put in place that would go as how it was intended to go. Now and then there should be a need for a review. The White Paper had been published. From the White Paper there was the draft Bill on the South African Schools Act. From that Bill came SASA of 1996. From 1996 and the time of the White Paper, today was 26 years later. It needed to be asked how and why did the Department make these proposals for the BELA Bill? Why was the country at this stage now? What was it that did not go well? Everyone would agree that there were things that needed to be amended and that there were things that did not go well. What was it that needed a review? The presentation mentioned that the powers of the SGB were being threatened. She noted that it was the first time she had heard of Solidariteit as a trade union. She discussed the issue of infrastructure that was raised. Everyone would agree that it was a serious issue in the Department. She noted that through programmes the Department had made efforts to address school infrastructure. Had Solidariteit checked with the Department what was its plan with regard to infrastructure? Had Solidariteit asked the Department what the progress it had done to date? What did Solidariteit think needed to be done to fast track the progress, because it was a challenge? School infrastructure was a challenge.

Mr Mulder responded to the question of why Solidariteit was of the opinion that the Bill targeted Afrikaans schools. It needed to be understood that this Bill did not happen in a vacuum. There was a context to it. On 15 January 2018, there was a High Court judgement that specifically stated that the Department of Basic Education in Gauteng realistically defeated the ends of justice to try and anglicise an Afrikaans school in Vereeniging. They by-passed two half full English schools and tried to an Afrikaans school to have English learners. That MEC had not been reprimanded for the actions of his Department. He had in fact been promoted. After that, on 7 September, Minister Motshekga said that this Bill was meant to ensure that there were no half full Afrikaans schools and that it would be addressed. This was specifically targeting Afrikaans as a language. Solidariteit found it weird. The vast majority of schools in South Africa were single medium English schools. Afrikaans schools were a small minority. There were no Afrikaans schools being built even though the amount of Afrikaans children were increasing. When a school was built it was mostly an English school that was being built. Solidariteit saw the effect on Afrikaans schools being 120 to 130% full in the areas where they were. This meant Afrikaans schools felt the demographic pressure from children needing instruction in their mother tongue, which was a constitutional right that every single person had in South Africa. The Department was not meeting that need and not meeting the needs of children in any of the other schools. There were pronouncements by politicians that specifically targeted language. Then a Bill comes along that specifically targets language policies and SGBs, after it was stated in answering affidavits that this language should be removed by departmental officials. Solidariteit was very sceptical and very worried. It was seen that Afrikaans was not being promoted in public schools. He did not think there was a single instance of an English school becoming dual medium and then becoming Afrikaans. There were several hundred instances of an Afrikaans school going dual medium and then within five years being a single medium English school. For its members, that was a massive worry. It wanted its children to have access to mother tongue education. This was something that worried Solidariteit. These specific sections worried it. He noted a court case where the Department was found guilty of defeating the ends of justice by trying to and force a school language policy through an SGB. Now there was a Bill that said the Department would take sole ownership of the language policy. The final approval would now lie with the Department. This skewed the idea of governing in partnership when it came to educating children. That was why Solidariteit was very sceptical about the intentions in the Bill. It was participating in the process as far as possible to ensure that its pleas and suggestions were heard, as a community that had a right to mother language education. He responded to the question of how the BELA Bill would be stifling mother tongue education. Solidariteit was extremely happy with isiXhosa education. However, it was worried why it was only isiXhosa. There were 11 languages and the biggest was isiZulu. Why did South Africa not have single medium schools in isiZulu? Why was UKZN the only university attempting to do tertiary education in isiZulu? Almost 20% of the population was speaking isiZulu. Those people should be given the best possible advantage, which was mother tongue education. It needed to be ensure that professionals who could do the job were trained and stayed in South Africa so that they could contribute to the country. Being trained in mother tongue was the best way to do that. Solidariteit was of the opening that if Bill removed the decision making from the SGB and the community, and it was moved to the Department officials then there would not be people who were passionate about what language their children studied in. There would be a bureaucrat that wanted minimum administration and minimum administration was one language. That was seen everywhere in South Africa where Government should be publishing Bills in 11 languages and it did not happen. Bills were published in English only. Whereas, if the decision making was decentralised and left the responsibility with SGBs then there could be a community who could decide. The community would feel passionate about its language and would like the school to educate learners in that language. The Department needed to trust SGBs. He responded to the comment that this Bill should promote nation building. He failed to see how mother tongue education did not promote nation building. South Africa was a unitary state but that did not mean that there needed to be a unitary culture or people. South Africa regularly celebrated diversity. Diversity was seen as a strength. That needed to be enacted. Every citizen of South Africa needed to be given the best possible chance possible. Every child needed to be given the best step up possible. He did not see how educating people better would detract from the nation building experiment. In fact, he thought that the opposite would happen. If there were more professionals who were more confident in the way in which they were educated then that would only help the country. South Africa was sitting with a dire school shortage, and it was not being addressed. At the same time there was a massive amount of unemployed people so the logical solution would be to upskill the unemployed people as best possible. When that succeeded then South Africa would be a winning nation once again. Nothing succeeded in binding people together like success. South Africa desperately needed a couple of wins. The way South Africa got there was by making sure that children were educated properly so that South Africa did not sit with statistics that made for really sorry reading regarding youth unemployment and youth employability. He responded to the question about whether these provisions barred parental participation. It did not explicitly bar parental participation, but it did not incentivise it either. The State Department usurping the responsibilities of the SGB basically told parents that the Department would listen to parents, but there was no guarantee that it would implement what parents wanted for their children. It was not going to increase parental participation. Schools were already sitting with the problem of apathy. Parents would not join meetings if there was no real impact. There could be parents not attending any meetings or more and more people opting out of the public school system, which would be a disaster. There would be more parents who had the means who would opt out for private schools. That would condemn the public school system with even fewer resources and that was not Solidariteit wanted. It wanted parents actively involved in the situation. Any Bill that spoke to the education needed to incentivise parental involvement as much as possible. He discussed rural schools. He grew up in a small town as well where there were 200 children in the school. It broke his heart to see what was happening to rural schools. He discussed language policies. Rural communities knew what was best for them. They knew what to implement and where to implement it. Devolving the responsibility to a rural community. The town was small so there could only be one school. That meant on a practical level the school would have to be dual medium. That had happened in several small towns where a school went dual medium but never went single medium English or single medium Afrikaans just because of the practical realities of that town. Practical decision-making by parents for their children should be encouraged. This Bill would facilitate the opposite. He noted a community in Hartvaal that had to build a single medium private Afrikaans school for 120 learners because the Department in the province changed the school to single medium English. Those parents still wanted their children to be taught in their mother tongue Afrikaans. Now that was a massively expensive operation. Luckily some of the farmers could afford it but it was a pity that those children were not included in the public school system. That community could have pumped capital into the public school system. They had been excluded by the school-going single medium English. This was happening in rural areas. Should schools be closed in those areas? Or should the Department be looking at enabling the SGB to make the decision on languages? The Department should then facilitate that and send the school teachers who could do that. He noted that it would break his heart if he had applied to an Afrikaans school for his son and he was told that there was no place. The harsh reality was that there was no place. Most Afrikaans schools were between 120 to 130% full. It should be asked of the Department, why were there not enough schools. Why was the Department not building Afrikaans schools? If somebody wanted to go to school in Afrikaans, then the Department should enable that. Let the SGBs decide if a school was full. If a community said that there was a need for another Afrikaans school in a specific town then the Department should be serious about that and should facilitate it. Solidariteit had disregarded anything related to race a long ago. Solidariteit was passionate about language. Afrikaans was 52% brown. About 8% of black people had Afrikaans as a primary language. Afrikaans was comprised of 39% white people as a home language. When Solidariteit spoke about Afrikaans it was speaking about the language group. It was not referring to any specific ethnicity. This language group had been desperately underrepresented in terms of tertiary education. The language-race combination of brown and Afrikaans had the lowest tertiary qualification level of any language-race combination in the country. This could be rectified by ensuring that these children had mother tongue education until grade 12. Secondly, by ensuring that there were tertiary options available. The response from the Department of Basic Education as well as the Department of Higher Education has been to anglicise Stellenbosch University. It was located near the majority of brown Afrikaans-speaking people. Solidariteit had seen a constant pattern from the Department. It only went the direction of English and never any other way. Whereas, that was the way success lied. He responded to the question of whether Solidariteit would assist the Department. Solidariteit would definitely assist the Department. Its main frustration was that it had very little access to Government. Most of its access to Government was through litigation, which was expensive and which it wanted to avoid at all costs. That was why Solidariteit was here. It wanted to stop a process before it had to litigate. It had tried to have access to the Department. It had invited several Government officials to Sol-Tech to see what worked and what did not work. Solidariteit was invested in South Africa. It was not going anywhere. It wanted the country to succeed. When a ship sinks, everyone sinks. It did not want the ship to sink. It was more than willing to assist wherever it could. Solidariteit had a long history of assisting as well. Earlier this year, it presented a list of experts to Minister Gordhan to try and fix Eskom. It was invested in the country’s success. With education, it knew what worked and what did not work. It had learned a couple of hard lessons through Sol-Tech. It was more than willing to assist and train wherever possible if the Department was to approach it. He responded to the question of whether the Department of Basic Education did enough and the question on infrastructure. South Africa had a unique problem in this regard. South Africa spent a massive amount of money on education and it got very little out of it. Questions should be asked about who did the buying. That was where the Committee should start with the Department. Why was the Department spending this amount of money and not getting what it should out of it? Given the recent history of state capture, he was worried about what would come out of it. It was necessary to do a full audit of what was being paid for stationery, and what was being paid for schools. If the Department was paying R400 million to clean schools and Solidariteit built a private college for R150 million then something was desperately wrong with where the Department was spending. That was where the focus should be. Where was money being spent? Was the Department spending money correctly? The Department was budgeting enough to be able to facilitate all of this. Somewhere between the money being allocated and the buildings being built, the money was lost. That was where the focus should be. He noted that with regard to the Bill it was time for review. No legislation should live forever. A critical part of the review was that everyone was heard. It was important that Parliament received inputs from everywhere. Even though the Act was from 1996, the spirit of the White Paper had much more longevity. The idea of educating children was something that everyone should be participating in. Parents were vested in their children’s education. The review should be focusing on where in the last 28 years Government was responsible in having the outcomes that were not desired. There were situations of either corruption or problems with service delivery. When the review was done the context should be taken into account. The successes were in the communities that took ownership and worked in partnership with Government. When Parliament was reviewing it needed to keep that in mind. The Department should be incentivising more ownership, more citizen accountability in that regard.

Ms van Vollenhoven said there were success stories when it came to language policies. Language should never be viewed as an exclusion. It should be viewed as empowerment for children. She provided examples of success stories. There was a school that had three home languages because the demographic of the community changed. It did not make sense for anyone to keep one language in a school but there was capacity for more and the school was going empty. There were success stories like that. There were literally three streams in that school where the children were learning in their mother tongue. If there were models where this was working already in current legislation, then why would it be necessary to amend something that was already allowing for that? Why not just apply it? The Department should not just visit Sol-Tech. It should also visit the state schools that were working. The Department should visit the single medium schools that were functional. There were functioning schools that were not very wealthy, but their matric results at the end of the year were high. Those models needed to be looked at. The Department needed to sit with SGBs and particular schools, and work out the model that was best for that school. There were already success stories and those should be focused on as a guide.

The Chairperson thanked Solidariteit for its submission. The Committee noted it. It would form part of the Committee’s consolidated report.

SA Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) Submission

Ms Aadielah Maker Diedericks, Regional Coordinator, SAAPA, made the presentation to the Committee. SAAPA emphasised that there should be no alcohol in schools. SAAPA noted that children needed to be protected. Science, experience, reality and the lived experience of people all pointed inexorably in the direction of the truth that alcohol has no place in schools. The presentation noted that there was no consultation with parents about the proposal. The proposal ignored the lived reality of communities where alcohol is freely available around schools and how that impacts on safety of learners and learning.

We must end ‘normalising’ the use of alcohol

  • The WHO Global Strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol promotes three ‘best buys’ to reduce alcohol consumption and alcohol harm – reducing alcohol availability, increasing the cost of alcohol, and limiting or banning alcohol advertising.
  • Alcohol is already ‘normalised’ through advertising, availability, poor adult modelling and peer pressure.
  • Having alcohol available at schools is going to ‘normalise’ its use even further –children will be led to believe that events, celebrations, sport and social gatherings must be accompanied by alcohol, preparing them for a life of drinking from the age of 18 or even before.

(See Presentation)

Discussion

Ms Van Der Walt said that there were two issues. Over 40 years ago she served on a SGB as well. Even then, SGBs had to apply for a liquor license for a function. Alcohol was never sold and it was not proposed in this Bill to be sold in schools. It was for functions, to apply and be allowed. It was not during school hours. In 1995, in the first democratic government, she was a councillor in Johannesburg. They revisited all the laws and by-laws relevant to rezoning of areas. That was when the issue of not being allowed to sell alcohol within so many metres of the school was established. The fact was that Parliament made laws and by-laws but did not watch over those laws. She often found as a ward councillor that there would be a sex shop across the street from a school. She had to then fight the municipality because it was their by-law. She discussed the presentation asking why it was necessary to sell alcohol to raise funds for schools. The reason was because schools did not have money. They could not do maintenance. She knew of learners who came from 19 kilometres away from a school, with alcohol already in their bag. They came from hostels with alcohol to school. It was very difficult to control and it was a sad story. She had five daughters and three granddaughters. She did not want them to use alcohol when they were not supposed to. It had been allowed ever since to apply for a liquor license and hold a function outside school hours. Children were not there. How was the other issue going to be stopped? That was where there were shops around the school. Were people fighting the municipality to implement the by-laws or the Liquor Act? That was where the biggest problem was. Not under supervision and a specific function. There were lots of discussions about this. She heard the plea. There was a control situation and there was a whole wide world outside that one could not control, because municipalities’ by-laws and Liquor Act were not imposed. She had difficulty in understanding how it was going to be stopped completely, because learners drink. Learners drink a lot all over the country. It was not just from school premises. It came from households. It came from friends.    

Mr Nodada said that this was an emotive discussion and that there was a lot of passion around it. Someone last week said that Parliament should never legislate for exceptions. At the same time, when Parliament did legislation it also needed to consider everybody. That was why the Constitution said that there could be single medium schools but also make sure there was provision that everyone had access to education. When Parliament did legislation then it needed to consider everybody. He came from an environment where one was an alumnus from a school. There was a rugby match on a Saturday and the school used that particular platform to fund it for various other things. It needed to be explicitly clear to Members, as legislators, as to what was being proposed. Was SAAPA saying that functions that were determined by schools to utilise that particular platform of selling alcohol to fund raise should be completely banned? Or must a provision be made? At the end of the day the Bill was talking about SGBs. Those were parents in that particular schools. They wanted what was best for their children. Should events and functions that were targeted by the SGB that take place on the school premises not exist? Should there be a complete ban? If that was the case, what regulations would SAAPA then suggest be put in place for purposes of fundraising in circumstances like that? Because it did happen. He was an alumnus at a school and he knew that they fundraise in that particular manner. It did not take away from the fact that alcohol was a social ill. He knew the effects of alcohol from a societal perspective. From a controlled experience, he had seen first-hand when those events were done. The discussion on alcohol should not necessarily be located here in education. It should be located elsewhere. He noted that it was an emotive issue. He wanted to understand SAAPA’s proposal on that and how it would be best managed. Schools did not have enough money to run their affairs and that was why they needed to fund raise. Everyone knew the reasons why schools needed to fund raise.

Mr Moroatshehla said that Ms Van Der Walt was correct that there was basically nothing new in this piece of legislation. That was the premise from which everyone should be seen operating from. He was of the view that this piece of legislation that the provision was attached to was being blown out of proportion or it was being misconstrued. He admitted that when he went through it he nearly fell into that trap of misinterpreting or misconstruing it as if the intention was to sell alcohol to the kids. He nearly misconstrued the main purpose of the proposal. He was not surprised when other people fell into that same trap. He urged the presenters to go and closely look at the provision and how it was intended to be. When Parliament made laws, it made laws for everyone. South Africa was a unitary state. In a unitary state, everybody needed to be taken into consideration when laws were made. It was not only for specific people. That was why he discussed federalism versus a unitary state. How should the Department manage areas where there was an exception for the use of school facilities for the selling of alcohol? For purposes of fundraising and those special functions. It was not intended to be sold to the children. That was not what the provision implied in the amended Act. Maybe if the presenters went back and looked closely at it they would have a broader understanding of what was contained in the Bill.

Ms Adoons said that if she had it her way then alcohol should not be served anywhere in the country. When it was lockdown level five there was no alcohol being sold in the country. The hospitals were operating normally without many cases due to the consumption of alcohol. She noted that the challenge was not only the alcohol that was sold on the school premises. She noted that the 21 learners that died in a tavern were not inside a school premises. Her interest was on outside of a school premises. What work was SAAPA doing to make sure that it also assisted those learners who lived with parents who were alcoholics? How was SAAPA assisting such communities? She noted that there was a need to rectify what was happening outside of schools.

Ms Sukers said that there was a much-needed discussion to be had around alcohol and its impact on communities. She noted Mr Nodada’s comments about a controlled environment. He was referring to schools that had a clubhouse and people were sitting in the clubhouse. The reality was that for many other communities, there was a totally different reality. It underlined the issue that was discussed with Solidariteit as well. That the people most affected by a decision should make the decision in relation to the realities that different communities dealt with. Alcohol would be sold in schools at a function to generate needed funds. The submission of SAAPA was as relevant as any other submission that had been made. SAAPA was raising an issue that was important to many parents and schooling communities where this fundraising was applied. She noted the much needed conversations that needed to happen about people facing exclusion that was not on the basis of race but on the basis of prejudice. Hopefully those discussions would be honestly had as the Committee goes through the provinces. This discussion was as important. She discussed when the Committee travelled to the provinces with the Children’s Amendment Bill. The voice of the people of South Africa was diverse. People were very engaged. From that perspective, she commended SAAPA for coming and speaking on this issue that was vital. The social aspects of alcohol and alcohol abuse in communities, especially in the communities she came from, were issues which law makers should engage on, especially when discussions were on fundraising and having it in a schooling community. She thanked SAAPA for its submission. She highlighted that it was an important submission for the Committee to engage with, because of the many issues being faced in communities.

The Chairperson noted the issue of consultation with learners on alcohol inclusion in the Bill. She was not sure if Adv Misser wanted to comment on clause 8. She asked what was the code of practice that governed teachers sending students to buy alcohol. What was the code of conduct? She noted that in the Western Cape Amendment Act allowed the selling of alcohol for fundraising. This was from November 2018. Why was the Western Cape’s position not in line with other provinces? She was asking for interest’s sake. Yet, the Western Cape has the highest substance abuse of alcohol. She also noted the issue of drugs. Most learners depended on social security, on the grants. Was there an attempt to contact the Department of Social Development? What were their views on this clause? The video that SAAPA played during its presentation had touched her. That was the real situation that was happening on the ground and the communities people were coming from. If a grade 10 learner could have that type of resilience, because very few would, she commended the learner for standing up and being resilient. However, there were many students who were not able to be resilient and ended up being dropouts because of the situation that they found themselves in. She noted the link between the issue of alcohol and the issue of gender-based violence. What training programmes was SAAPA doing to capacitate the learners and young people on the impact of alcohol? She highlighted the interpretation of clause 8(8)(a). Its application and understanding were two different things. She asked a question to all who were present. What was in the best interest of the child and learner in this regard? There were many issues on the ground, on whether alcohol was served during or not during school hours. The Members main interest was the interest of the child. Whatever answer is given needed to be based on the interest of the child. In many communities, schools were the only places that could accommodate many people. People would need to book that school if they had a wedding or any type of event. If those events happened at schools, then it would probably have alcohol. What happened if by mistake someone left alcohol and a learner saw it on the Monday? There were too many issues. The Members should put their minds on the interest of the child. What were the other mechanisms that could be explored for schools to have access to funding? 

Ms Diedericks thanked the Members for their questions. It was an emotive issue and a difficult issue. She noted that the language issue was the same as with alcohol. The reality is that the schools that used alcohol to raise funds were the ex-model c schools and privileged schools. It was not the schools of the majority of people. The experience of management was very different from the majority of schools. When the Members spoke about not legislating for the exception it raised for her the question, which exception were they talking about? SAAPA understood that this Bill was not about selling alcohol to children and to learners. SAAPA also understood that there needed to be an exception for educators who lived on school premises, in staff quarters. That was different. Some of them might consume alcohol. SAAPA was not asking to legislate people’s lives. What it was asking was for the government to put the interests of the public and learners first. It was not just the Department of Education. The Chairperson raised the issue of DSD. There were also the Departments of Trade and Industry and Treasury. How could everyone be brought together to talk about the fact that it wanted a productive society? Internationally it was very clear. Learners who were exposed to alcohol advertising started drinking earlier and they drank more. Those were the cold facts. SAAPA could provide the references for that. She discussed schools being the only venue in communities. It was a very complex issue. The key issue that society needed to deal with was how does society avoid normalising drinking alcohol. That was the key issue. That was why SAAPA chose to speak to this issue. She noted that society was capitalist. SAAPA was in agreement that they could sell products in the way that they wanted to, but alcohol was not an ordinary commodity. It was not like chocolate. It was not like fruit. It caused social harm. Therefore, it required people to look at the issue with a slightly different lens. Could the public’s health be put first before one looked at the value the product adds? Currently, taxpayers subsidised the profits of the alcohol industry. The government generated between 2-4% of GDP through taxes on alcohol. However, South Africans paid between 10-12% of GDP on dealing with alcohol-related harm. She responded to the question on what SAAPA did. SAAPA aimed to bring together organisations that worked with women, children and the members of the educational sector so that it could look at evidence-based alcohol policies. That was its purpose. Its purpose was to make sure that Government came up with and implemented policies based on evidence. Not on emotion or speculation, but on evidence. The evidence was clear. The World Health Organization made ten recommendations, but it was called the three best buys. The three best buys included reduced availability. The Member mentioned what happened during Covid. All that was done was that Government regulated the hours. There was either a complete ban or a partial ban. Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital - for the first time in its history on new year’s eve - had no trauma admissions. That was purely because alcohol was limited. The second-best buy was to restrict marketing because of its impact on consumption patterns. The third was to look at pricing. How could pricing mechanisms be introduced? When the price increased it generated revenue for Government. With more taxes on alcohol, the government would get more money to deal with alcohol related harm. The second result is that it would reduce consumption, particularly amongst the poor and young people because they had less money available. Alcohol affects everybody across the social structure. It was not a poor person’s issue. However, the people who lived in poorer resourced communities were more affected by alcohol. That was because they did not have access to other resources. Women that experienced GBV in Claremont were able to access resources very differently to a woman who lived in Khayelitsha. There was a way in which that fed into the problem around alcohol. Khayelitsha had over a thousand liquor outlets, of which only 11% were licensed. The problem being dealt with was very nuanced and complex. She discussed examples of the work SAAPA did. It was currently supporting the parents of Enyobeni together with the South African Council of Churches. There was a court appearance on Friday. It had been mobilising support and was going down to the Eastern Cape to support parents. The issue was that there needed to be accountability around who was responsible for the deaths of the children. She noted that the licensing process that happened did not happen correctly. That tavern should never have had a license. SAPS knew that there was a problem and did not enforce the licensing conditions. Two days after the incident happened, SAAPA went to the Eastern Cape Liquor Board’s website. Nowhere did it say that communities had a right to object to any license. They did not give people the information to empower them to act on their rights. Constitutionally, every single person had the right to object to any liquor license. The government was responsible for providing information on the mechanisms communities should be able to access to object to a liquor license. SAAPA also wanted to hold the Department of Trade and Industry accountable for the lives of the 21 children in Enyobeni. If the dti enacted the Liquor Amendment Bill then there would be a different situation happening in the communities. Provinces would then bring into line their provincial legislation with national legislation. Currently, there was a national liquor policy that actually stipulated the hours of trade. SAAPA could provide a study of the percentage of people who were being awarded licenses outside of the national policy and the norms and standards. Somebody needed to be held accountable. SAAPA had also objected to the application for petrol stations to hold liquor licenses. There was a problem in South Africa. 59% of drivers that were involved in car crashes tested positive for alcohol. It did not make sense that petrol stations should be able to apply for licenses. People could now get out of their car, into the petrol shop, purchase their alcohol, and get back into the car. SAAPA was promoting the idea that Treasury should increase the levy on alcohol with the purpose of taking a percentage of that and ring-fencing it for health and development programmes in South Africa. It was one mechanism for funding development work in South Africa. This had been done in other countries. Australia passed legislation where they did this. In the first year they ring-fenced 30% of the money raised in that mechanism for sports development. In Thailand, it had the same for both alcohol and tobacco. They had been able to prove that through the work that was funded through that levy they were able to reduce the harm from alcohol and tobacco. They had also been able to reduce consumption. There could be other mechanisms that could be explored to fund the developmental challenges. Currently, alcohol was a developmental obstacle. She noted that alcohol impacted directly on 13 of the 17 Government developmental goals. If the government did not deal with regulating alcohol better, then the country would not be able to obtain its developmental goals.

A member of SAAPA said that the issue of licensing was not something new. It was something that had been happening. It was part of the problem. It was part of the normalising. That was also something that it was raising as an issue. Society had normalised the consumption of alcohol. A Member provided an example of being an alumnus and having drinks during a sporting function. That was the leading reasons which led the youth to binge drink. Part of the problem was that it might be thought of as a controlled environment, but they were actually normalising a habit that affected the youth down the line. She noted the densely populated areas and the rural schools. What was meant by controlled drinking? How did the Members see that taking effect so that the youth in those areas could be protected? 

Ms Diedericks said that it wanted to ensure that no alcohol was sold through the school for fundraising purposes.

Ms Phumelele Ngema, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, Constitutional and Legal Services Office, said that she wanted to mention three things with the caveat that should would still be doing her own presentation at a later stage. The principal Act defined school activity. School activity ‘means any official educational, cultural, recreational or social activity of the school within or outside the school premises’. SAAPA’s main concern related to clause 8 of the Bill, which was the amendment to section 8A of the SASA. Clause 8(1)(b) of the Bill stated, ‘no person may bring liquor onto public school premises, or have liquor in his or her possession, or consume or sell liquor on public school premises, or during any public school activity’. Clause 8(1)(b) was making a clear prohibition. However, clause 8(1)(c)(i) then stated, ‘notwithstanding the prohibition contemplated in paragraph (b) - the Head of Department may, upon application from the governing body to supplement the resources of the school, permit the possession, consumption or sale of liquor during any school activity’. That was where the problem was and where the submission was lying.

The Chairperson thanked Adv Ngema for the clarity given to the Members. She thanked SAAPA for its submission. The Committee had noted its concerns.

LearnFree Submission           

Mr Christopher Cordeiro, Founder, LearnFree, made the presentation to the Committee. The presentation had five key submissions. The submissions related to a new architecture of education law is needed, education law needs to be made fundamental rights based and child-centric, learners with disabilities and rural education included in BELA Bill, new education modalities need to be accommodated, reform of ‘How, what and how quickly’ policy and education laws are developed, and a case study of home education.

Proposals

  • Make SASA a true Education Act.
  • Create an environment supportive of ‘soft law’ to cater to emerging educational modalities.
  • Support the call of SAHRC that online should be included in the Bill.
  • Incorporate the ECD sections of the Second Children’s Amendment Bill.
  • Incorporate a dedicated section dealing with learners with disabilities.
  • Include procedural rights.
  • Reform NEPA to accelerate, democratize and improve the quality of policy development.

Anchoring Principles

  • That the best interests of the child are paramount.
  • Law that impacts children should be child-centric, and based on the fundamental rights of the child.
  • The principles of subsidiarity and solidarity fundamental to the South African Constitution are followed.
  • Equality and quality of education provision should be achieved.
  • Promotion of freedom in and of education.

(See Presentation)

Discussion

Mr Moroatshehla said the beauty of South Africa was that people were offered the opportunity to sit and share views before the laws were passed. He noted that South Africa was a participatory democracy. Education was dynamic. From time to time the Members would talk about the transformation of the education system. He noted that there was a history to education. Today’s presenters and the public would have to understand what was happening. Education transformation was a must. It was an unavoidable route that everyone had to pursue. No one could say that all had been well and that things had to stay the same. The beauty of the South Africa democracy lied in affording citizens the ability to freely participate in almost all matters that affected them. Hence, he said South Africa was a participatory democracy. However, during a participatory democracy change became inevitable. Change was pain. Change was unavoidable. He discussed the sunset clause. It was very imperative and important that South Africans knew where they came from, and how South Africa arrived where it was. It would be naïve if they were going to peddle towards where they came from instead of peddling forward. What was LearnFree’s view on the role of the provincial education department’s HOD in relation to the school policies? This question was informed by a repetition of some of the input of the presenter that the BELA Bill was not an education Bill. Rather, it was a school Bill. He discussed home schooling vis-à-vis online schooling. How should Government effectively play a role in relation to home schooling and online schooling to ensure that the Department guaranteed the right of the children to learn? What was LearnFree’s view on the use of school policies that condoned exclusion of children due to the language policy?

Ms Adoons said that the Department had heard a number of presenters on home schooling talk about the lack of capacity by the Department to monitor the home schooling processes. She asked Adv Misser to comment on that matter. Did the Department have the capacity to monitor and oversee home schooling? She wanted to know Mr Cordeiro’s view on the high level of teenage pregnancy. The number of teenage pregnancies increased after lockdown. Those children were at home when they got pregnant around that time. How should home schooling be monitored if the Department did not play a role, as learners needed to receive education and needed to be safe at home?

Ms Sukers discussed the rights of parents. She noted that it had come up in more and more presentations that the rights of parents were not respected. It was possible that with the BELA Bill there would be even more capture of parental rights. How did parental rights figure in the submission of LearnFree? She discussed the Children’s Amendment Bill. Throughout all the provinces the Committee went to, the communities said that more and more parents had no authority over their children. The rights of children were emphasised but the rights of parents were never emphasised. LearnFree’s presentation emphasised children’s rights. How did parental rights fit into LearnFree’s submission? She discussed the issue of micro schools. She was happy that LearnFree was here to participate in the proceedings. She noted that there was a small school in the Helderberg area. It was opened with a vision that the quality education received in a private school would be available for poorer communities. A child activist had opened the school. It was one of the schools with the best marks in education in terms of maths. That school had been under threat of closure for a number of years now because it had a very small funding model. She had raised the issue of registration of such micro schools with the Committee and Umalusi. What were the variants for registration for micro schools? The quality of those schools was indisputable. She was glad that Solidariteit emphasised the point of class sizes and how that impacted learning. The presenter seemed to suggest that the Committee start all over with the Bill. What alternatives were there? How could practical action be taken from legislation to address the challenges of bullying? It was mentioned but it was not expanded upon. She said that she was a home school mother. She was very aware of the practicalities and challenges when it came to education. She noted the challenges that home school parents could have. She believed that education was one of the best gifts that one could give their children. She thanked LearnFree for what it was doing for South African parents.

Dr Boshoff said that many people did not believe that learning could be done freely and for free. People self-imposed this idea that school was something which the state had to do to them and for them. Home schools or micro schools are perceived as an elite privilege. Where in fact it was a lifestyle choice made by people of all walks of life and all levels of socio-economic ability. People made the choice to forgo at least one income in the household in order to be with their children on a higher level. He highlighted the idea that education did not equal schooling. Schooling was one option within education and that was what LearnFree put forward to the Committee. That was what should be legislated. He noted that this was innovation alive. New things were seldom done in the mainstream. Innovation was mostly done by somebody not working according to the rules. If South Africa wanted to have an innovative society then Parliament needed to legislate in such a way that innovation was facilitated. He noted home schools, micro schools and collaborative schools. Then it was not an individualistic choice but a community choice. What he saw in LearnFree’s presentation was an approach to education to which many of the responses were not prepared. There were not just three modalities of schooling. In fact, there was a whole range of education, and technologies aiding that. One would like to move away from the massification of schooling. That would be good for all. People wanted to ask the Department for everything. There needed to be a regulator, which could act as an ombud. Education went wider than just schooling. There were two main reasons why this Bill could not stand. The one was that it was outdated before it even became law. That was what LearnFree managed to show. He thought there was a long way to go to open people’s minds for something that had been washed out of people’s plans. Before industrial schooling became the norm, this was how schooling worked. How did LearnFree envisage at least some coherence so that learners could enter a university or TVET college? There needed to be some baseline. How was it possible to establish the baseline, because there could not be a very individualistic approach that each student arriving at a university must first be assessed?

Mr Nodada said that the presentation had discussed something which he was really passionate about. He noted that South Africa was still trying to play catch up. He was glad that the Committee received this type of presentation. He had raised in the Committee that online learning, blended learning and other modalities of learning was something of the present. People thought of it as if it was something that was going to come in the future. During Covid, it was the go-to thing. The sad thing about it is that rural and township communities never have access to it because people there still had problems with the network and did not have access to Wi-Fi. It was something that needed to be incorporated into the system not only to alleviate pressure on physical schooling but also to expose parents, communities to different modalities of education and learning. When it came to other modalities of learning, including home schooling, was that located in the South African Schools Act? Or was there a proposal on how to best put law in place to facilitate or regulate this type of modalities of education? Where must the monitoring be located within the South African Schools Act? Where would it be best located within the current legislative regime? He knew that there was a framework which was being drafted by the Department of Basic Education to regulate online and blended learning, which had not come to the fore at the moment. What was LearnFree’s views on that particular framework that was being drafted? Was it itself not also outdated? Where would that be located in the Committee’s legislative making process? He noted that the Chris Pappas, the Mayor in uMngeni Municipality, had recently opened a college. It was a collaborative schools model that had a blending learning approach to learning. Even when it came to schooling as a public good that that was a move that society should be taking. Rather than forcing parents to go to a bad public school because it was free. Parents should be given the option for hybrid or blended schooling. Parents should be provided with a voucher to access that type of schooling. There was a curro school in Mitchells Plain. It cost about R1500 a month. Parents would rather take their children there because they knew that they would get quality outcomes from that particular school rather than being forced to go to a bad public school just because it was free. Had LearnFree done any research on the collaborative model of schooling? There were some success stories on it. The presentation mentioned rural education. What was meant by the statement that rural education was not being addressed in the current sections of the Bill? He wanted to understand where to locate it. He was happy the presentation mentioned that there was a difference between education policy and school policy. He had interrogated inputs on educational policy from 17 countries across four continents that had advanced a lot in terms of education technology. South Africa was completely outdated in terms of what it did. South Africa thought giving a child a device was the fourth industrial revolution for some reason. He thanked LearnFree for the presentation and hoped that the Committee could take some of these points on board. He hoped that Parliament would not legislate for the past put legislate for the future and the present.

The Chairperson said that the presentation mentioned positive developments. She wanted LearnFree to detail what those positives were, and to be specific. The presentation also stated that the Bill did not work. She requested LearnFree to resubmit. Where LearnFree had specific concerns it should highlight the specific clauses. The Committee needed to have an understanding of what were LearnFree’s issues with the Bill. She noted that page two and page three of the Bill did speak to issue of learners with special needs. The ECD was also covered in the provision for compulsory education for grade R. She wanted to know exactly what LearnFree thought. LearnFree said that the BELA Bill was not an education Bill but a school Bill. Had LearnFree ever made a contribution to the Department? There were many organisations which had told the Committee that they had made proposals to the Department, and that the Department had either responded or not responded. Had LearnFree had any interaction with the Department? If there was, what was the outcome of that? The presentation also mentioned that SASA had never been reformed to incorporate the Children’s Act and the Child Justice Act. Was LearnFree aware that the two latter Acts resided with the Department of Social Development? She knew that the parliamentarians that worked with the Department of Social Development had public hearings in which they reviewed the Children’s Act. Did LearnFree participate in that process?

A member of LearnFree responded to the question of monitoring in relation to home schooling versus online schooling. There needed to be a clear and separate definition for online schooling and home education. It was two completely different approaches. In home education the parent took on the responsibility of the care and the education of the child. With online schooling, the parent enrolled the child with a service provider and provided the child with a computer. The parent maybe helped with homework and with doing projects. However, the parent was not the primary responsible person. That responsibility lied with the tutor or the service provider. That was where different measures were needed. If she put her child in someone else’s care then she wanted to know that her child was in a safe environment, that her child would be in a safe environment and that the child would be getting what she had paid for. When she cared for her child, she already knew those things were in place. So, in that case she did not need Government oversight to make sure that the private building was a safe building, because she knew that her house was a safe house. No one had ever questioned that since her child was born. She discussed the monitoring of home education. It spoke to what people saw basic education as. What was the purpose of basic education? She believed that basic education should enable each child to develop their personality, talents, and abilities to the full without discrimination. Basic education should prepare a child for a life of dignity and responsibility in a democratic society. Its purpose was also to foster values of tolerance and respect. Its purpose was to provide children with the skills to continue learning and to function as independently as possible as an adult. Monitoring should not be limited to the national curriculum. The statistics speak for themselves. Attending school or following the national curriculum did not guarantee that a child would receive a basic education. Every child developed at their own pace. She represented herself and her son. She was willing to provide proof of learning when requested. She was even willing for him to write international benchmark tests to assess literacy and numeracy skills which were not content related. At the beginning of her home education journey, she came with a school mind-set because that was all she knew. She had focused on testing her son.  She had focused on testing so much that her son did not get the opportunity to learn. He would feel like a failure if he did not understand something. She realised that in testing him all the time and using external assessments she was giving him anxiety, and making him fearful of making mistakes and learning from them. She had not given him the opportunity to learn. The BELA Bill suggested that home schooling parents have their children externally tested according to the national curriculum. That was not practical for home schoolers. It was also of no benefit to parents because they knew where their children struggled and where they excelled. She used to believe that only a teacher was able to teach a child how to read, write and do maths. That was not true. She also believed that a child had to be taught in order to learn. That was also not true. She believed that a child had to read and write in order to learn. That was not true. She had a fear that spending so much time with her son would harm their relationship. That was not true. She implored the Members of the Committee to embrace the various ways of monitoring education and to ensure that legislation was in line with the practical reality of home education. External assessment based on a national curriculum was not in the best interest of her child. It was to the benefit of the administrators. 

Mr Siraj Ghoor, Owner and Founder, Open Minds Campus, said that learning was such a spectrum. On one extreme was the mainstream school and on the other extreme was the un-schoolers. The un-schoolers did not believe in any curriculum. They believed that a child was naturally curious from the day the child was born. That a child would want to learn throughout their life. They would only help a child read when they wanted to read. That was pure self-righteous learning. Home schooling was somewhere in the middle. These were parents who had expectations. He wanted his child to go to university. Therefore, he had to find the middle ground. He wanted to make the student in charge of their curriculum while still guiding them. They were against the forceful, fearful learning system where students were learning because they were scared and not because they were interested or motivated. He had chosen to do the English curriculum because the curriculum was flexible, and was recognised locally. It had been established for many decades in the country. The Cambridge curriculum allowed the parents to be flexible where the students did not need to have a grade 10 or 11 before that. It allowed parents to fast-track learners or if a student failed grade 10 in a mainstream school then they could still continue with their journey. Their assessments were external only for grade 11 or 12, which were O Levels and A Levels. He oversaw the school and expected his teachers to then make sure that while students were learning at their own pace that they were also assessed and met certain criteria, specifically in terms of mathematics and languages. He was happy to provide such data to the Department. It might not be formal assessments. It might be informal assessments. It might be assessments for the parents to see where the learners were, but not for the students to have the pressure of exams. It was also not for children to compare themselves and to use terms like ‘smart child’ and ‘stupid child’. They tried to stay away from those kinds of labelling because that would hurt the self-esteem of the child. Each child learned at their own pace. The parents did not make the learners feel as if they were behind or that there was something wrong with them. The curriculum allowed for flexibility because each child was unique, and they learned differently. He discussed his request in terms of legislation. A Member had asked what were the obstacles to registration. There was the minimum student number of 20 learners. He had been attempting over the last couple of years to comply with registration. There were a lot of different councils and departments that they needed to engage with and that made it difficult. He wanted there to be space for micro-schools or cottage schools to also use other modalities of education. He also wanted micro-schools to be in a safe space where they were not threatened with closure. He believed that there should be oversight but selective oversight. He agreed that what they did could be abused.

A member of LearnFree said that she worked with teenagers and young adults who had been branded as ineducable. Next week Friday, those ineducable children would be receiving 42 certificates from a UK-based curriculum provider geared towards special needs. The service provider had something for everybody as long as one could communicate by blinking. She had children doing a variety of these curriculums. There were children with Down syndrome and Williams syndrome. There were high and low-functioning autist children. She also taught children with cerebral palsy. What bothered her was that because she was running a private entity with no funding, she could not roll this out to the children in Khayelitsha or Gugulethu or any rural areas because she had to fund it and she had to pay in pounds. The children were learning things like independent living. Taking children from grade 1 to grade 5 was not teaching them skills that they could use. She had a course teaching the children how to do the basics around the house. She taught them how to cook, how to clean, how to read a lease agreement and how to run a household. Her gardening school learners had attended a market, ran a stall and the four children made R800 each in one morning. One of those children also did a computing course and was running his own business making websites. These were children who were supposedly unemployable. These were children who could be employable but the current education system did not cater for them. She could not register as a school because she did not fit the definition. She had spoken to the Department of Basic Education and the Department of High Education. She had wanted to align her courses with Umalusi and CAPS. The Department said that they did not know what to do with her. Her learners could not do CAPS. It was not right for them. CAPS did not work for her learners. She wanted to empower her learners and give them dignity. There was no need for a disability grant because now they could actually work. She could also do a hybrid version. She could physically fit five children into her classroom. She had 23 children on roll across the country. She did an online digital system learning hybrid, which was apparently impossible but she had been doing it for a few years. Not one child that she had on roll had not received at least one externally moderated UK certificate.

A member of LearnFree said that her approach was that school modalities should be individualised according to the child. It was possible and should be normalised so that choosing an education programme for your child was as easy and alternative, and unique as the child. It should be adaptable. It should be adjusted as a child grows and changes. She believed that every child was special and unique. There should be different categories like special needs. She believed in a schooling system where there was individualised education designed for the specific child. She and her team had opened up five schools and satellite schools. Where other schools used their school management system and approach, they also had blended learning options. The entire school route was plug and play. There were no different grade levels. It was very modular. She discussed school finishing and the obstacles to registration. She had trouble taking her learners up to grade 9 because they wanted to honour the learners’ rights up to grade 9 as required by the Department. She was in favour of working with the Department. There were many people who did what she did under the radar. She did not believe that was productive. She noted the limitations put on them to grade 9 and the obstacles to registration. The hybrid model did not exist in how attendance was monitored. Schools that were doing things well in communities were being closed. Preschools were being closed down because of zoning issues. According to the Department, the small schools had to use certain properties for zoning but they were in a small house. Why was it necessary to pay R70 000 to get the street assessed when there were five to 20 cars parked on that street? The school was not adding to the flow of traffic in a way that was significant like in a mainstream school. It also struggled with the curriculum requirements. She could not fit her modular approach into SA-SAMS. She could not fit her modular approach into CAPS and make Umalusi happy. It was not going to happen. It was going to lose everything it was doing with its learners by trying to make it work. They were trying something different, and it was working. She was limited in what she did. The limitation she currently had was that she could not easily find funding because they were in a situation where they were not as compliant as they could be if they were accepted. How could it promote itself for funding when it was running a company that was not compliant and could not be fully compliant? That was also a big problem. They could not use the funding of the Department. Their schools had to be expensive which undermined the efforts they were trying to make. They were not able to make a profit at the moment. For the last three years, the school did not make a profit. This was an industry for educating and they were struggling to do that. Their students did the American High School Diploma because it was the most modular way. The students built up a transcript. She recommended that that was the way to go in terms of how to reach a benchmark and have coherence. It was by building transcripts that were modular and then there could still be accessibility benchmarks. For certain types of jobs there would be accessibility and then one would need to build up a certain type of transcript. How that child built that transcript up was unrelated to a necessary age-grade relationship. It should be unrelated to which modules they did when and how fast they progressed through those modules. It was possible and it was scalable. They were making a manageable, scalable school management system right now. It was working. It was not just working for the elite students. There were children in Athlone using its programme. They had children all over the country using its programme. The more fundable it was made the more it could reach across the country. It was easy to train. The more education became progressive and digital the cheaper it actually became. She discussed language inclusivity. Translating a whole textbook and translating a digital curriculum was completely different. It was much easier and much cheaper. It could be done in so many languages. She discussed coherence and monitoring. USAF and SAQA had already made progress in terms of recognising American options and Cambridge options, but Umalusi had not done that. That was problematic. Their students were already going to universities in South Africa and being accepted space on their accreditation. It was not the same accreditation as South African students but there was already a process for that. There needed to be a more agile approach to SA-SAMS or other polices that were in place that limited registration.

Mr Ghoor discussed whether using devices was innovative. He did not believe that it was. A device often just replaced a school textbook or a school lesson. It was not an answer to what they believed education should be in the future.

Mr Cordeiro said that LearnFree would make some written submissions to respond to the Committee. He responded to the question of Mr Nodada on rural schooling. One of the biggest rural schooling crises was the drop-off as students went into grades 10, 11, and 12. Online schooling offered an opportunity there. There were model programmes already that were already beginning to address this. He recognised that the majority of learners were in public schooling and would remain so. This sector was like a laboratory. None of the people who spoke wanted to hoard their knowledge. They wanted to share it. There was a critical legal problem in the structure of the way the Act worked. It limited the ability of online schooling to happen. He would address that in more detail. He discussed collaborative schooling. There was a range of models. He had not done in-depth research into collaborative schooling. It had an extensive network, and they would look into that. He discussed online schooling and the regulatory framework. The framework as a soft law instrument in general looked okay. He noted that there were hard law components that were needed there. Learners did need to be registered. Online schools needed to be able to be registered. It needed to be questioned as to whether a draft regulatory framework allowed them to be registered. There were positives in that framework. Unfortunately, the framework was promised in October. It was November and the framework was not out yet. Other than the legislative problem with online public education, there needed to be a safe space with reliable internet connectivity for learners. The legislation needed to be able to accommodate that. There could not be an expensive registration process. That would be a limitation. There was no process under public education to do that. He responded to the question of how home-schooled learners could access university. A lot of work was needed on that to ensure that there was an integration of a modular Lego approach to education, where there were multiple points of entry. However, that was not the reality in basic education and higher education. On the African continent, there had been a move from public education towards independent education. He discussed the issue of bullying. The Department needed to get the legal framework right. The issue of bullying had been going around for years and years. Most schools’ code of conduct was appalling. It was appalling from two perspectives. One, was the violation of leaners’ fundamental rights. There was no recognition of victims’ rights. Those regulations were so flawed that any good lawyer or legal person could get someone off on basically any crime. LearnFree would send some proposals on that matter as well. He discussed the issue of parental rights. LearnFree believed that the best interests of the child were best served by the parents. This was a ruling in the Constitutional Court. This was where the legislation should be focusing. He noted the point of Ms Adoons on learner pregnancy. He noted the point of Mr Moroatshehla. People could not ignore South Africa’s historical reality and the destruction of the family that took place under apartheid. The past needed to be acknowledged in order to move forward. He noted the principle of subsidiarity. That the people closest to the problem must make a decision. That was true. However, there was another equally important balancing principle. The principle of solidarity. Solidarity was not charity. It was not helping someone out. It was the fundamental need for society to act in solidarity. That was a very important principle. Solidarity was a fundamental principle in the Constitution. It was fundamental to Ubuntu. It was a fundamental aspect of society. He would answer that question in more detail, but those were the principles along which he would answer that question. He responded to the question of the role of HODs in terms of school policies. That was fairly clear in terms of schools. In terms of home education, the role of HOD needed to be limited to registration, as it was with private education. Home educators generally called for notification. They would like to notify the Department that they were home educating and their philosophical reasons for that. That was a question that some of the home education organisations that would present after him that could answer in more detail. He acknowledged the reality that the majority of people were in public schooling. The focus should be on how public schooling was made into quality education. He said that the legislation was on the right track in looking at some sort of procedural right. There were court judgements looking at the equality issue. Those were some of the positives in the Act. LearnFree had shared some research with the Department of Basic Education some time back, particularly on home education and highlighting some of these issues. LearnFree was always open to interacting more with the Department. They would answer the Members’ questions in detail. He responded to the question about whether the Bill needed to start all over again. That was for the Committee to decide. He did think that it was possible to in the interim make some running repairs to where the Bill stood. The Chairperson asked about the issue of ECD. He thought that there was a potential legal problem if the Department went ahead with ECD at the moment. He would deal with that in detail in a submission. There were issues like that that needed to be addressed. He thanked the Committee for their time. He would get back to the Committee with any written information at a later date.

Ms Sukers said that the ECD portion of the Children’s Amendment Bill would form part of the second Committee Bill. It had been removed from the Children’s Amendment Bill in its current form. It would form part of the second Committee Bill. She did not know whether that would be incorporated here. She wanted to bring that to the Committee’s attention.

The Chairperson thanked LearnFree for its submission. The Committee noted its concerns. The Committee would incorporate the issues, like all the other organisations who had made submissions. The Chairperson said that the Committee would break for lunch.

Mr Douglas Ngobeni, NEC Member, COSAS, raised an objection that COSAS had been waiting to present since 12h15. He said that COSAS was not here to play.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was running late and that the Members needed to break for lunch then the meeting would continue. The Chairperson noted that the kitchen would be closing soon. She understood that COSAS was in a very serious rush, but that was the predicament that the Committee was sitting with. She apologised for the Committee being late. The Committee would allow COSAS to present and the Members would then engage. The Committee would break to eat and then quickly come back.

Mr Ngobeni said that that COSAS missing a flight to Johannesburg could not be compared to a person not eating a plate of food. They were two different things.

The Chairperson said that if COSAS missed a flight, Parliament would book them a flight.

Congress of South African Schools Submission

Mr Ngobeni, Ms Xola Booi, Second Deputy Secretary General, and Mr Koena Mpya, NEC Member, made the presentation to the Committee. The presentation noted with concern that Janusz WaluĊ› was given parole. That distracted COSAS from completing their presentation.

Ms Van Der Walt raised a point of order.

Mr Ngobeni asked for the Chairperson’s protection. He said that Ms Van Der Walt was a Member of Parliament and continued to defend herself from racism.

Ms Van Der Walt said that when Members of Parliament started this process, any organisation had the right to submit any inputs. The Committee had invited the organisation to Parliament.

Mr Ngobeni said that he would not be instructed by “this woman”. The Chairperson was the one who would tell him what to do in the meeting.

Ms Van Der Walt said that COSAS was here on invitation by the Committee to do a presentation on the BELA Bill. COSAS was not here to talk politics about what happened in a court the previous day. COSAS was not here to offend or attack any other presentation or presenters. She also wanted it noted that the Committee had just received the presentation, which should have been with the Members prior to the meeting. Members of Parliament came well prepared to meetings. She asked for COSAS to go directly to their presentation and not discuss politics. This was not a COSAS meeting. It was a meeting of Parliament.

Mr Ngobeni said that Ms Van Der Walt was giving a speech. It was not a point of order. The BELA Bill on its own was politics. The BELA Bill was guided by the politics of what happened in schools. When COSAS spoke about Chris Hani then they were speaking about a person who stood firmly for education in South Africa. If she was offended about COSAS speaking about Chris Hani then that was her business. He noted that Ms Van Der Walt was only a Member of Parliament. She could not tell COSAS when to submit presentations.

The Chairperson asked COSAS to continue with their presentation.

The presentation went on to highlight that COSAS supported the definition for ‘basic education’ clarifying that basic education referred to grades R to 12. The recommendation made was that learners who failed grade 9 twice should be recommended for TVET college. This programme should start with Mr John Steenhuisen of the DA, so that he was able to complete his matric.

The Members of the DA raised concerns over the presentation. Ms Van Zyl said that the presenters should leave.

Mr Ngobeni said that they would not leave. He noted that COSAS had listened to right-wingers for hours. Who were they to say that COSAS should leave? He said that the Members should stop disrupting the presentation.

Mr Nodada said that the Chairperson should call security. That would be the best.

Mr Ngobeni said that the security should be called on this woman because she was being disruptive. COSAS would not be intimidated by a white woman.

The Members of the Committee and the members of COSAS engaged in a verbal disagreement. The Chairperson threatened to call Parliamentary security. She asked for COSAS to continue with their presentation.

COSAS supported the provision which provided that the HOD, after consultation with the SGB, has the final authority to admit a learner to a public school, It was the role of the HOD to ensure that the provisions of the Constitution were upheld. The HOD needed to always act in the interest of the child as prescribed by the courts. COSAS noted that many schools were denying learners access through their admission policies. COSAS was of the view that there should be a complete prohibition of any dangerous objects, alcoholic drinks, and illegal drugs on school premises. It is not clear how any of these can be used for legitimate educational purposes. Not only did these threaten the safety of learners but also education staff.

(See Presentation)

Discussion

Mr Nodada asked whether the delegation from COSAS were learners.

Mr Mpya said that they were going to answer any questions about the presentation but not about the organisation.

Mr Ngobeni said that if Mr Nodada did not want to ask questions then he should just leave. He added that COSAS was not going to answer that question.

The Chairperson asked Mr Ngobeni to not respond while someone was on the floor asking questions. COSAS would respond after all of the questions had been asked.

Mr Nodada said that when Equal Education presented they introduced everyone in their delegation. The Committee had asked them about their agenda and who funded them. The Committee wanted to understand that the stakeholders that presented to it were actually representing all South Africans. It was important that when the Committee dealt with stakeholders that it knew where the stakeholders came from. If COSAS said that they were the Congress of South African Students, then the Committee needed to determine that as a fact.

He discussed language. He noted that during apartheid his parents were forced to learn in Afrikaans. That decision to learn in Afrikaans was made by the apartheid government at the time. They made that determination because they were the government. They further went on to say that only certain people could study certain things. There was a proposal in this Bill that said the people who must approve and determine what language must be done at school should be the Government. This is the same principle of the apartheid government. That an HOD in a province would determine what languages were used in a particular school. The presentation said that COSAS supported the clauses that gave the HODs powers to determine or approve language policies and admissions policies. He provided examples of schools where they wanted to teach and study in their own mother tongue, but the Department could not make that facility available because there was a shortage of teachers. They also did not have the necessary study equipment to make that available to those particular SGBs and parents to make that particular provision available. Should the Bill not then be empowering parents and the learners who chose to study in their own mother tongue to determine what language must be used in schools? Rather than using an apartheid government system of having an HOD that must determine what language policy must be in schools. He discussed compulsory grade R education. He noted that for countries across the world that the principle of making grade R compulsory was important. Some countries even said that highly gifted learners could start grade R at an earlier age. Highly gifted people were roughly 2% of the world’s population. These were people who were intellectually advanced. They did not shout when they talked. They innovate. The Minister said that the Department needed R1.7 billion to make grade R compulsory, but that the Department did not have the funding for it. Had COSAS explored what the constitutional implications were of not being able to implement grade R when the Department had legislated that? The funding and resources that were available in the fiscus could not realise this particular legislation. Did COSAS know what the constitutional implications of that were? Maybe COSAS had a solution for that because that was a question he had asked all the stakeholders who had supported this particular clause. He discussed the provisions around the use of alcohol in school activities. People came from different environments. Where he came from, school activities happened in the classroom because they did not have a clubhouse. The environments differed but the principle remained the same. Those that were responsible enough and had the facilities to host such events must be given the space rather than legislating for the exception. The reality was that drugs and alcohol behavioural problems were a societal issue. Schools were a microcosm of society because they lived in communities. However, one could not divorce the reality of what happened in society and what happened in actual schools. Provisions needed to be made which were differentiated because communities were not the same. Rather than having a blanket ban approach, should there not rather be a differentiated approach in dealing with this particular issue of how to fund raise? This needed to be done so that one considered all the communities that existed. It was important that when organisations came to make representation that they did consultation. Based on the proposals that COSAS had made today, had there been any extensive consultation with the 13 million people that it represented to make sure that its members were aware of these particular amendments? Many problems were caused by making decision for people on the ground without educating them and telling them what the amendments were about and how it would impact their lives.

Dr Boshoff said that everyone agreed that TVET colleges should be the preferred place of education. If unsuccessful grade 9 students were referred to TVET colleges as a matter of course then would that not turn TVET colleges to a place where people did not want to be? Because one might be regarded or perceived as a dropout. There were several vocations that people want to do but they might not want to because they were afraid of the stigma of attending a TVET college. He asked the presenters when they felt most empowered? When learning in English or learning in their respective mother tongue?

Ms Adoons said that COSAS noted that it had 13 million members. She assumed that the members were in all the provinces. What was COSAS’ view on the issue of undocumented learners? There were cases of learners who did not have documents and were unable to get into school. What was COSAS’ role? How did it assist such learners? Did COSAS do its own oversight of schools? She noted the migration of ECD. The presentation noted that making ECD compulsory would also assist the unemployment rate in the country. She wanted more understanding of when COSAS interact with its members at school level. How far was the migration process? How was it unfolding in schools? Had enough been done so far? What else needed to be done to make sure that the migration was completed? She noted the issue of teenage pregnancy. Young girls had to become parents at a very young age. Were there any educational programmes that COSAS had, as a representative of young people, at the level of schools? Was COSAS helping the Department to assist young people in that regard? Now the Committee had another angle. Young people were concerned with what was happening in the country. The Members needed to be mature enough to accommodate each and every one that came to present to the Committee. The Members should not be agitated by how COSAS presented themselves to the Committee. All South Africans needed to be treated equally.

Mr Moroatshehla said that South Africa was a participatory democracy. It needed to be a democracy where everybody was given a hearing. He noted that there was nowhere where presenters went through workshops of what to do and what not to do. He thanked the Chairperson for her patience in managing the situation. The presentation made a remark about the language policy and how it was impacting on the education of children in South Africa. The life function of a school was teaching and learning. In accompaniment, there were many stakeholders. COSAS was one such stakeholder. He asked for COSAS to elaborate on how far did it think the language policy, as applied in some schools, was negatively impacting on the education of children in South Africa?

Ms Sukers said that she wanted to speak to the presenters as a mother and not a Member of Parliament. She appreciated the energy that they brought into the room. COSAS had a history of how it engaged on issues in society. However, she believed that if there were political issues that it wanted to raise then it should raise it in a respectful manner and not in a manner that would cause division or attack the dignity of another person. It should be recognised that Ms Van Der Walt in African culture was an older women and the manner in which COSAS engaged with her today was not respectful. COSAS could raise many political issues because it was in Parliament and spoke for a generation. It represented a generation. The Committee wanted to hear the organisation. When it became as contentious as it became today then the cause or the thing which COSAS represented got lost in the noise. She noted that the Members came from struggle politics. Some of the issues and the way in which COSAS engaged reminded her of that. She asked for the presenters to apologise to Ms Van Der Walt. Ms Van Der Walt was older. As a woman, she felt that the manner in which Ms Van Der Walt was spoken to was not appropriate.

Ms Van Der Walt said that COSAS noted in its introduction that it had 13 million members or people they represented. What were the schools that these 13 million people came from? Were they primary and secondary school members? Before making this presentation to the Committee on the BELA Bill, did COSAS have any engagement with or input from its 13 million members? Or was it presenting on what it perceived to be the obstacles in the Bill that its members would have?

The Chairperson said that her observation was that COSAS agreed with the amendments, except on clause 28. The presentation said that it needed to be reconciled. When COSAS said that it needed to be reconciled what did that mean? The specific clause dealt with the SGB loan and overdraft. She asked for COSAS to be specific. What did it mean by that? She apologised for the Committee making them present late. The Chairperson agreed with Mr Sukers. It needed to be understood that when one was in Parliament that there were different political parties. She understood that COSAS was only used to dealing with people at their age. The Members had been there and understood. Here COSAS was dealing with different people, different political parties. Everyone needed to be patient with one another. The Chairperson said that as she allowed COSAS to respond, that they respond directly to the questions asked.

Mr Ngobeni said that they were happy that they had a mother in this House. He noted that COSAS embraced Africanism. He said that he would apologise a bit to Ms Van Der Walt, but COSAS would not apologise to Mr Nodada on the basis that he joined politics very late. Mr Nodada could not ask a question about who funded COSAS and where it got its membership. If Mr Nodada joined politics when it was not fashionable to do so then he would know that each and every school in South Africa had a COSAS base. They were not forwarding an apology because they felt that they were guilty. They apologised because someone had volunteered to be their mother. They hoped that as a mother she would buy them lunch after the meeting. He responded to the issue of grade 9. COSAS was not saying that it should be compulsory a school to send a learner who had failed grade 9 twice to a TVET college. He noted that if learners could not study further to grade 10, 11 and 12 then there was an option for the learner to go to a TVET college. It was only a recommendation. This recommendation should be written in a report card that it was advisable that the learner go to a TVET college. He noted that the artisans across the country did not have a matric and just went to a TVET college. He discussed the issue of language. He told the story of Albert Luthuli being asked by a journalist why he was fighting an oppressor in his own language of English. Albert Luthuli responded that if you spoke to a man in a language he understands then it went to his brain. But if you speak to a man in his own language then it went to his heart. Language in schools should be motivated by the language that the learner was more comfortable with. If a learner was more comfortable with English then that was fine, but then they still needed to be cognisant of the fact that English was not their mother tongue. He said that there were creams one could take to make yourself white. However, the fact would remain that that person was black and they had a mother tongue. COSAS did not have a problem with any language in South Africa. There needed to be the inclusion of all languages in South Africa. It could not be correct that 28 years after democracy where learners went to an exam room, where learners were taught that English was the medium of instruction, and when the learners arrived in that exam room they were not even sure if they were going to pass or not. The learners were not sure about the emotions of the person who set the exam at that particular point. Learners might enter an exam room and the paper was already difficult before one entered the door. It could not be correct that in a country that had 11 official languages that a learner arrived in an exam room and the question paper had two language options. One of the languages was not even a language of the learner. It was not right to have an exam paper with only two language options. It was English and Afrikaans. Afrikaans is a language that he deemed to be very difficult. A learner would be challenged by the English version of the paper and when the learner looked at the Afrikaans version it got even worse. COSAS recommended that the Department look at the demographics of a certain province. In reviewing the language policy, these were powers that should be given to the Department of Basic Education. COSAS wanted the powers to belong fully to the Department. He believed that division in society was embraced by the code of conducts in schools. COSAS was not saying that there should not be Afrikaans in schools. If the school was public and regulated by the Department of Basic Education, then it should offer all of the languages of the country. There could not be a country within a country, like what was happening in Orania. He knew that if he went to Orania he might be attacked with rubber bullets. He noted that Orania had their own currency. It was a country of their own. COSAS acknowledged English to be the medium language of instruction in South Africa. He noted that when his parents rebuked him in Tsonga it was harsh. But when his parents rebuked him in English then he felt like a loved child. That was why COSAS had accepted English as a language of instruction. The English that COSAS accepted was content and not accent. He discussed the issue of alcohol. South Africa was a democracy. The decisions taken in a democracy should be binding to the minority. If they voted here it would be obvious who would lose and who would become a minority. Even those who lost should be bound by the decision that was taken by voting. Alcohol remained one element in society which continued to kill, more particularly, the youth. The same with drugs. Regardless of whatever facilities a school might have, the fact remained that it was a school and a school needed to be respected as such. This was regardless of where the school was. It remained a school that was regulated by the Department of Basic Education. The laws needed to apply to all schools that were regulated by the Department. He understood that there were people with their own schools of thought. Those people could sell alcohol in their schools but not in public schools. He discussed the apartheid government enforcing Bantu Education. COSAS understood it fully. The creation of COSAS was a result of 1976 Soweto Uprising, which vehemently rejected the imposing of Afrikaans as the medium language of instruction in South Africa. That was a policy which was imposed by the apartheid government. South Africa was now a democracy. South Africa was not a dictatorship, unlike what happened during the dark days of apartheid. People were victimised today because schools were able to make their own code of conduct. For example, he noted the hair of the Chairperson. It was very beautiful, but if a grade 8 child went to school with hair that was similar to that of the Chairperson then she was going to be victimised. The school would say that it would not allow that kind of hair. That was because the school had its own code of conduct around hair. The girl was simply embracing her own hair. It was nature. It was inevitable. COSAS was not reintroducing apartheid tactics. The apartheid tactics were the ones of yesterday, which he would not repeat as the Chairperson might call security again. He commented on the issue of undocumented learners. Borders in Africa were introduced or imposed by people who were being defended by some here. When people spoke about foreigners in South Africa, they only spoke about Zimbabweans, Ghanaians or people only spoke about Africans in general. No one spoke about the settlers. Like the cadre that was given parole yesterday, the cadre remained an illegal foreigner because he was taken from Poland to come and kill Chris Hani. He was arrested in South Africa but he was not documented. He was not a South African. He remained an illegal foreigner. It was imperative that when one went into a schooling system, that the Department would accommodate people who could be accounted for. COSAS was not going to take anyone and put them into a classroom because they had the same skin pigmentation or because they were young or because the United Nations said that Government should educate everyone. If the United Nations wanted to educate everyone then they needed to take them to England and educate them. COSAS wanted people to be documented. COSAS was not saying that if a person was undocumented and they arrived at a school gate that that person should be turned away. The teacher must be able to assist that child to go through the relevant procedures to make sure that the child was documented. It was not the children’s fault that they were not documented. It was the wars which were happening in Africa, and they migrated to South Africa. They needed to be documented so that they were able to be accounted for. So, that when the budget was done for the education the Department knew that there were this number of people who were documented. COSAS did not reject undocumented learners. Those learners needed to be taken to be documented.

Mr Mpya responded to the question on teenage pregnancy. COSAS recommended that anyone who fell pregnant and was younger than 16 years old should identify their boyfriend or husband so that a case could be opened against them. COSAS had programmes engaging on the issue of teenage pregnancy. It was working closely with the National Education Collaboration Trust. He responded to the question of the 13 million members. It had membership forms that were open from grade 6 to grade 12. Currently, its membership was 13 million at Luthuli House. The Members could come and count them. He discussed the issue of alcohol. If someone wanted to sell alcohol on the school premises, then COSAS would not allow that nonsense in schools. He would ‘moer’ anyone who wanted to sell alcohol. He apologised for the disrespect. He thanked the Chairperson for giving COSAS the opportunity to represent.

Ms Booi discussed the migration process of grade R. The process was going very slowly. However, it noted that there was progress. It was addressing the issue of unemployment because there was a high rate of unemployment in the country. She discussed the funding for grade R. People could not be seated here having lunch using taxpayers’ money and say that there was no funding for grade R. Parliament needed to think again. It could not be that Ministers were driven in fancy cars. They were human beings just like anyone. They were elected and appointed to lead the people. They needed to take taxis and buses just like the people or they must take Ubers. There was lots of money in the country. It just needed to be directed to the right places. She discussed the issue of small loans. When she was doing the presentation, she had only read the recommendation that it had. There was a need to understand the difference between the types of agreements so that the idea of small loans could be better understood. It could not just say a small lease. A small lease could be R500 000 at a school. Figures needed to be spoken about. Small loans needed to be defined. She discussed the constituency that COSAS leads. It led at a national level. It had an NEC, provinces, regions, branches, and sub-branches. When it compiled the report it came from the ground to the national structure and was incorporated. So, there was consultation. She discussed the issue of respect. When COSAS came here they were not workshopped on what to do, how to behave and how to respond. Learners shouted at one another. At the end of the day when they walked out of the door they were all agreeing and happy.

The Chairperson thanked COSAS for its submission. The Committee noted the submission. The Committee was going to incorporate it with the submissions from other organisations.

Malihambe Seventh-day Adventist Church Submission

Mr J Sifunda, Member of the Malihambe Seventh-day Adventist Church, made the presentation to the Committee. He noted that he was making the submission on behalf of the Malihambe Seventh-day Adventist Church. He was a representative of Malihambe Seventh-day Adventist Church. Malihambe SDA was of the view that the BELA Bill is an important development in the education sector. It believed that the BELA bill is a pertinent document which seeks to align educational laws to the current context of our society and most importantly to the constitutional values and principles of our country, such as: professional ethics, efficient use of resources, impartial, fair and equitable service that is free from bias, needs of the public and public participation in policy-making, accountability, transparency, good human resource management and career development and redress of imbalances of the past.

The presentation noted that schools were plagued with the following:

-Child violence against teachers (assault and murder).

-Child to child violence.

-Children in possession of assault weapons and drugs.

-Child pregnancy.

-Bullying.

-Drunkenness by children (smoking of hubblies, vaping, alcohol abuse).

-Child suicide.

-School dropouts.

-Torching and damaging of school facilities.

-Children criminal offences.

-Degradation of cultural values.

Employment of Educators Act – New Inclusion

The Act is quiet about the diverse cultural beliefs and religious observances of educators. It recommends that an inclusion be made to chapter 1 section 3 subsection 6 of the EEA:

Schools should give consideration to the diverse cultural beliefs and religious observances of educators.

(See Presentation)

Discussion

Mr Siwela noted that the presentation identified compulsory psychosocial and other critical intervention. What happened when parents and learners refused such support? Did the psychosocial support impact the child’s or the parent’s rights? He discussed the presentation’s observation on admission policy matters. Why was the matter contentious despite the clause including consultation as part of cooperative governance? Which were the factors that were creating discomfort with the role of SGBs? Why was Malihambe SDA Church of the view that teachers should do random searches? Would this not create danger? Why should the police not do this occasionally and teachers could request random searches?

Mr Nodada asked how Malihambe SDA would address truancy as an issue. What would be the corrective measures it recommended? Had Malihambe SDA done a calculation on how many psychosocial support staff would be needed based on the proposals it had made today? How did the change to add a safety measure protect the learners? How would it be defined as a safety measure to ensure that it was not abused? The same with the interest of the public good, which was often abused. Was it aware of the concerns that had been raised by the home schooling sector about the burden the Bill would place on those parents to register their children and learners having to comply with curriculums? Presentations had been made by the home schooling sector on the burden that was placed on them when they were to actually register with the Department, and the limitations of the Bill in terms of the curriculum they wanted to provide to their children.

Ms Adoons asked if Malihambe SDA had done research on why learners attacked teachers. If it had done research, what were the findings?

Ms Sukers observed that the presentation welcomed the regulation on home education. The presentation noted that it believed this would add more structure, value, support to home education with quality assurance. How did it foresee that the regulations in the current form would manage to do that? How would the Department provide support? She spoke from the perspective of a parent who chose to home educate their children. In the current regulations, and given the capacity of the Department, how did it see that the Bill in its current form was actually going to assist home educators? The presentation said that this would increase the credibility and status of home education and increase opportunities for learners to have more access in higher institutions. She asked for that to be expanded on. She noted her experience with home education. Children who came from a home education environment were much more ready for university. She noted that SDA had good quality tertiary education. How were the regulations going to assist those schooling communities that chose, because of their convictions or the needs of their children, to do home education? How was this legislation going to assist parents? She thought that the input could assist the Department.

The Chairperson discussed the six-to-12-month penalty clause. The submission made was that it should be replaced by psychosocial support programmes. It was making this recommendation. Had it taken into consideration that there were not enough social worker personnel in the country? Where would the psychosocial services and the people who would do counselling come from? She discussed clause 8 section 8. What were the other ways of fundraising that should be looked at? The presentation noted that Malihambe SDA was against the payment of the assessment cost by parents who did home schooling. Parents who did home education did not pay for school fees because their children were not in public schools. What would be the motivation of the Department to pay for the home education assessment fees? What was Malihambe SDA’s view on home education? Did it think that home education should proceed the way it had been proceeding? The presentation raised the issue of HODs procuring LTSM. What was its view on the situation in some provinces where LTSM was received late compared to when the school was opening? Would centralisation not help in this regard to prevent learners from being without learning resources? The presentation noted that schools should be given consideration to diverse cultural beliefs and religions. South Africa was a unitary state. She wanted more information on what Malihambe SDA meant by diverse cultural beliefs and religion.

Mr Sifunda discussed the submission of cultural beliefs and religious observances. It was aware that the Constitution gave effect to that. However, as a sector, it felt that perhaps there should be more ways of regulating teachers because there were diverse cultural beliefs and religious observances. However, when one looked at the Educator’s Act that regulated teachers, one seldom found anything that spoke to that. Malihambe SDA was of the view that the Educator’s Act should say something about the teachers’ right to cultural and religious beliefs. He responded to the question about the procurement of the HOD and the LTSM. The Department should not make subjective occurrences principle and law. Data analysis and evidence-related research should guide the developmental work in policy making. As that issue was looked at, was it at a wide spectrum? Or was there subjective catering for schools that were mismanaging finances? What was the issue regarding that? Was it that those schools were not managing their finances well or were there administrative issues perhaps that involved the entire management of the school? Malihambe SDA was afraid of the Department applying a blanket theory to issues where one solution was used for all in different contexts. He discussed the view of home education. Malihambe SDA was a religious institution that encouraged home education. It had its own institutions. It encouraged its members to send their children to its institutions. However, this was a public Bill that would govern and regulate the entire society when it came to the issue. It had a lot of contentious engagement on a church level on this issue. It had to understand where the Department was coming from. It was looking at it being organised. He noted the monitoring of home education as a factor. Maybe its experience was a subjective one. Its students wanted to gain access to higher institutions. Some would have to take tests and would be deterred during the process. The church would then have to look at building its own higher institutions because of the difficulty in adaption from home to mainstream education or schooling. He discussed whether there should be a payment of assessment costs by parents because they did not pay school fees. Parents who were home schooling did not pay school fees. Most of the parents in public schools were non-fee paying because the Government and the Department were socio-economically sensitised. Parents who were home schooling should be put under the same bracket as a non-fee paying school. He discussed the other ways of fundraising. Malihambe SDA believed in stakeholder engagement. It did not believe in a school coming up with different school activities to augment its resources. Its view was that there should be a collaborative effort between the parents, the SGB, and the schools. The ideas would just come up. There were actually a lot of things that one would not have imagined which could bring a lot of revenue to schools and capital injection to schools. It did not want to mention specific activities and events. It encouraged a collaborative, participatory education system where all the different stakeholders had a part to play in the upbringing of their children. He discussed the six to 12-month penalty clause being replaced by psychosocial services. Malihambe SDA was not saying that it should be replaced. That was one of the recommended programmes which could be done as a mitigation measure. Malihambe SDA was proposing community service as a punitive measure for those parents and not only the psychosocial programmes. He noted that Malihambe SDA had had an engagement with people from its organisation on these issues. Most of them were people who were in the education sector. It had an informed view and as a religious organisation there were certain values that it subscribed to. If it wanted to submit a particular view it needed to keep it within that specific scope and focus. He responded to the question about whether it was aware of the submissions of the home schooling sector. It was aware of the submissions. He had read the documents on the consultations between the Minister, the Pestalozzi Trust, and other organisations on home schooling. It had to do its own research on the compliance clause and the registration fees. The proposals which were made there got Malihambe SDA to a point where it was recommending certain things on home schooling. He discussed the recommendation of a safety measure. It believed that the primary attention should be on everyone within the schooling space. The public good and public interested needed to be prioritised. It wanted to encourage that by all means. The search and seizure should promote the public good and public safety. He discussed how many psychosocial staff would be needed. He did not know at the top of his head how many exactly. There would need to be a lot of on-the-ground research on that aspect. Malihambe SDA’s understanding was that there were a lot of psychosocial problems and issues in schools that led to violence. This was a mitigation factor that it wanted to put on violence. This was a strategy that would better assist this problem and issue. He discussed the best corrective measures to address truancy. The presentation proposed community service for those parents. He responded to the question of why Malihambe SDA promoted teachers doing random search and seizures. The Bill made accommodation and provision for that. It would be on the judgement of the principle as to how they would delegate those responsibilities as and when the need arose. He discussed the other factors which were causing discomfort to SGBs. There was quite a range of them. It limited its focus to what had been said in the BELA Bill. He discussed what would happen when parents refused to attend the psychosocial programmes. The SA Schools Act was enforcing the law. Law meant compliance. It wanted there to be an attitude of enforcement when that particular law was promulgated. It did not pre-empt as to what could be an outcome. He noted that there was a lot of progress, and the Department was trying its best to come up with effective ways on alleviating most of the social issues in schools.   

The Chairperson said that the Committee had noted the submission. The Committee would incorporate it with all the other submissions.

South Africa Learners Command (SALC) Submission

Mr Siyabonga Sgudla, President and Commander-in-Chief, SALC, made the presentation to the Committee. The presentation noted that the Bill does not seek to redress the results of past racially discriminatory laws and practices, it further limits the rights of learners in an unreasonable and unjustifiable manner. It noted a number of issues that raised alarm with respect to the Bill. It welcomed the amendment of section 3(1) of the South African Schools Act to provide for the compulsory attendance of school to begin from grade R. This would provide for an improvement in learner performance in higher grades, as learners would have begun their education on an equal footing, theoretically. It required the Bill to give the Minister the power to determine the functions and the procedures for the establishment and election of representative councils of learners in accordance with section 11(1) of the South African Schools Act. Furthermore, the Bill must provide for the recognition of civil society movements that represent the rights of learners to be duly recognised by the Department of Basic Education, Provincial Education Departments and the Minister, and for such formations to be inclusive of RCL (Representative Council of Learners) members so as to legitimise their voices, as well as to grant RCLs the right to freedom of association, in the same manner SGBs may associate themselves with different SGB formations. The SALC noted that it would support the adoption of the Bill in Parliament, subject to the amendments which it proposed.

(See Presentation)

Discussion

Ms Sukers thanked Mr Sgudla for bringing so much energy to the submission. One of the things that stood out was that the presentation noted that learners needed to form part of the important conversations that were had when it came to decisions that were taken. She noted that children’s rights in legislation set it out like that. With any policy or legal framework that affected children, children needed to be consulted. SALC supported the merging of schools into one public school. Most of the people affected by this were learners in rural areas. Children were taken away from their communities and were placed into township schools. A lot of learners were affected by that. There were a lot of dropouts. She wanted to hear the SALC’s opinion and view on rural school closure. She asked because children were a very important stakeholder in that. The presentation emphasised the rights of children and the rights or learners to be consulted. Where did parents fall in? Did it agree with the move that the State took on the role of the parent instead of the parent taking the decisions that would affect the lives of their children? She thanked Mr Sgudla for the respectful way with which he engaged with the Committee.

Ms van Zyl said that she went onto the SALC website to read up more about the organisation, but the website was suspended. What was its mandate? Where did it come from? Where did SALC get its mandate from? When would the SALC like to see the full implementation of compulsory grade R? How would that financial shortfall be supplemented? She discussed lifestyle audits. Would the Department be able to implement this for all South African schools and what would it like the timeframe for that to be? 

Ms Van Der Walt said that there were contradictions in the presentation. She discussed using the tragic incident of Enyobeni tavern. Not all the family members of the victims were happy that people were using the victims as examples. That did not happen at a school, and it did not happen due to a school function where a school tried to fundraise. The youngest was 13 years old in that tragedy. Organisations needed to be careful when they motivated something. Yes, the victims were learners but it did not happen because of what was in the Bill. She discussed an example used in the presentation that an adult might leave alcohol out and a child might grab it. Alcohol was not going to be sold at functions where children were present in a room or a hall. It would be under supervision all the time. There should be some accountability. It was not open to all. That differentiation needed to be made. She was not sure when the SALC was established. She had been a member of an SGB about 40 years ago. In those years the school would apply for a liquor license for a specific function and then it was gone. The school would not be able to sell any more alcohol and no alcohol could be brought onto the premises. It was not new. If it was such a hazard to the SALC then why did it wait for the Bill to come and complain about it? This Committee did a lot of oversight. She had served on the Committee for many years. It had been to Mpumalanga and had heard all about the MST schools. Some schools were very happy because there was a need for it. There were other schools where communities were not consulted by the Provincial Department, not the National Department. If the SALC was unhappy about that then should it not go talk to the Provincial Department on this matter? There was something called pro-choice as well. So, if a school right next to a child only did MST and the child did not want to do MST then they could go to a school that does not provide it. It was a choice. It would be a very sad day if everything was centralised in the country. It was not possible to uplift equality in everything. In fact, the exact opposite might be done. Centralisation was not what everyone agreed on. Decentralisation worked if it suited that school community. Not everyone went to public schools and not everyone went to private schools. It did not matter what one’s background was. Those who could afford to go should go wherever they pleased. She noted that SALC was angry as well based on the words used in the presentation. He should not be angry. Mr Sgudla should contribute in a positive, constructive manner all the time. How did it establish this specific BELA Bill council with the people that it had included in the submission? What motivated those people and not others?

Ms Adoons discussed the focused schools. The presentation mentioned one in Mpumalanga that was converted to a school specialising in maths and science. She noted that when the Committee did oversight in Mpumalanga it visited a big school with a lot of infrastructure and some buildings were under construction. At the same time, that school was declining in numbers. Very soon, in two to three years, that school would close if there were no learners enrolling in that school. The Committee urged the principal to mobilise communities and start to recruit more learners to that school. It had a very nice infrastructure. Young people should utilise such infrastructure that was there. It was about to be closed because there were no learners enrolling in that school. It was a challenge that some of the schools were being closed because of the challenges they were coming across. Maybe those communities needed to be assisted to utilise those schools. How was the Department going to promote specialised education in different skills if there were not going to be focused schools? Learners who went to specialised schools performed well in focused schooling. There were a number of professionals that were produced at these technical schools. What was the view of SALC on what should happen now, after it had said that schools were being converted and learners had moved away because of it? She wanted the view of the SALC on SGBs that discriminated against learners based on their language or religion. How should the Department intervene in such cases?

The Chairperson said that nothing could happen in the sector with the learners. However, there was a need to be practical. For instance, a learner in a secondary school was someone who was not professional in any field of practice. It was someone who had never been trained to understand the professional role and requirements of hiring an educator. SALC wanted students to be part of hiring educators. The reality was that someone in high school did not have an understanding of how to deal with that process. That learner had no knowledge of the Labour Relations Act and the policies governing the appointment of educators. What would be the role of learners in the recruitment panel of the educator? Must the learners go there to observe? Or did the SALC want the learners to take part in the employment of educators? She discussed clause 5 which referred to the language policy. The submission recommended that Parliament should process the Bill to amend section 6 subsection 1 of the Constitution to include South African Sign Language as an official language of South Africa. What was the SALC’s view on indigenous languages like the Nama, Khoi and San? Why was the SALC not incorporating them? The presentation noted that the SALC rejected clause 6 insofar as it provided the Minister with the power to decide who and who not to consult in determining the national curriculum and the national process for the assessment of learner achievement. Once the Bill was passed in Parliament, the Minister would continue to disregard the instance for learner formations. Was the SALC aware that the Department had programmes where learners in RCLs were orientated to understand their role? The SALC also rejected clause 12. It would force learners to do curriculum streams that they did not enjoy through the establishment of technical high schools. The presentation mentioned Vaal Reefs Technical High School and the KwaMhlanga Secondary School. What progress and contribution was the SALC making towards making the technical schools user-friendly in terms of the curriculum that was offered there? What inputs had the SALC made for the improvement of learners, particularly in maths and science? The country needed more learners that were doing maths and science. What was the SALC’s contribution to this aspect of the curriculum at technical schools?

Mr Sgudla said that there could not be a blanket approach to mergers. The submission was not saying that if there were schools that were far apart, like in the rural Eastern Cape, those schools should be merged. The SALC welcomed it when schools were merged and became one new public school. Insofar as the new public school would have its own name and the two management structures and SGBs would merge into one. That was what the SALC supported. That did not mean it supported learners being disadvantaged. It boiled down to the fact that learners needed to be consulted. The Bill did provide for that. The MEC must provide for the consultation of the relevant stakeholders. Schools could not be merged where learners or parents would be disadvantaged. There should be mergers if it was in the best interest of the children. He noted that all laws must be consistent with the Constitution. All conduct also needed to be consistent with the Constitution. That was why Members of Parliament would take Cabinet Members to court when they had acted unconstitutionally. Learners need to be consulted. The best interest of those learners needed to be taken into account. The SALC was saying that if they were two schools quite near each other and it would not disadvantage anyone if they became one school then there should be one school code of conduct, one school uniform, and one new school name. He discussed where parents would be located in consultation. Parents had always had the louder voice in the past. Most SGB associations were led by parents and not by educators. Irrespective of the fact that SGBs consisted of learners, parents, educators, and non-teaching staff. Most of these associations were led by parents. The Minister had always consulted SGB associations, superseding learners. So, parents had always been accommodated. The SALC was not saying that parents should be disregarded. The SALC was not trying to get rid of the parents, get rid of other stakeholders, and only focus on what learners were saying. These were the learners’ parents at the end of the day and their views were also important. That was why even when a learner was charged with misconduct in a school, at the SGB disciplinary hearing, the parent must be there to represent their child. Parents had always been important. Most learners were minors. Therefore, there was always parental consent that was required in most cases. Parents would always have their voices heard and a seat at the table. The SALC was not against having their voices heard. Learners should be given participation as well. The Children’s Act provided that children should be allowed to participate in whatever process that affected them. The SALC was not saying that learners should be put at the front of the row and that everyone else had to be disregarded. Then SALC was asking for all the stakeholders to have an equal seat at the table. No one should be undermined because of who they were. All stakeholders should be treated equally. All stakeholders should be listened to equally because they all spoke from their perspectives. The reason why the basic education sector is as dysfunctional as it is today is because not all stakeholders were listened to equally. Certain views were not listened to. Certain views were listened to more than others. He apologised about the website. SALC was having an issue with the service provider. He responded to the question of what was SALC’s mandate. The SALC was a learner movement. Its members were learners and young who might not be learners but who were interested in the cause. It had one main objective, and that was to fight for the provision of free, quality, well-resourced, and decolonised basic education. That was the mandate of the SALC. He discussed when SALC would like to see free grade R being implemented. Even if the SALC said that it wanted it implemented now, it did not lie with the SALC. Parliament could even pass this Bill tomorrow, but it would sit on the President’s desk, and he was the one who would determine when it came into operation. Its wish was that the day that proclamation was signed that the implementation would be from the next academic year. He noted that the financial implications of that did not rest with the SALC. It rested with the Committee. Parliament passed the budget and the budget of each Department. The SALC did not. The learners’ parents elected the Members of Parliament. When the learners voted in 2024, then they would choose who they wanted to be in Parliament. The people voted for the Members to be in Parliament. If the people wanted grade R to be compulsory as of tomorrow, then Parliament needed to ensure that that happened. The people were the ones who sent the Members to Parliament. It was the mandate of Parliament to listen to the people and to ensure that what the people wanted was implemented, as long as it was consistent with the Constitution and all other laws. He discussed whether the DBE would be able to implement the lifestyle audit for each and every school. The SALC did not have confidence in the current administration. However, just because it did not have confidence in the Department, it did not mean that it could not ask for the Department to do something. If the Department failed to do it then that situation would be dealt with when it happened. If it meant that some court application needed to be filed, then that would be done. There were three arms of state that worked hand and glove together. If people came to Parliament and the Executive failed to implement, then they would go to the Judiciary. People needed to be held accountable. Parliament must be assisting the stakeholders. If all three arms of state worked well then everyone would be happy. It cannot be said that because it took the current Minister 13 years to table the Bill that it would take 13 years to implement the lifestyle audits and therefore, that the Bill must not be implemented. Was that assisting anyone? The laws needed to be made. She would not be the Minster forever. The Members would not be in Parliament forever. He felt that Ms Van Der Walt misunderstood him about the Enyobeni tragedy. He was not saying that it was a school function or that it was a fundraising function. He was saying that this was the extent of the damage which alcohol had done to society. He noted that his grandmother lived in a rural village in Mpumalanga. He grew up in a township, Mamelodi. He saw what alcohol did to people. It might not be what Members might have experienced while growing up. He noted that black people had been subjected to abject poverty for years, for centuries. It was man-made poverty because they did not choose to be poor. They did not choose to be subjected to the degradation that they were subjected to in the past. That caused them to be what they were today. The angry black people of this country. They were not angry because they liked being angry. They were angry because those that came before fought so hard for him to participate like this. Again, there were the same issues that were being had today. These were issues that should have been resolved years ago. People were unemployed and saw alcohol as an escape because whenever they were intoxicated they felt better. It was not a good thing but it was the reality. A child was exposed to this at home and then saw things happening on a school premises. On a Monday there could be a beer bottle that was not exposed of. South Africa had normalised alcohol and it was not taking the country anywhere. During lockdown people had survived. People would not die without alcohol. Even after the fundraising function, one could still go to a bar and a restaurant and have a glass of wine. He noted that it was still possible to have fun without alcohol. There were other ways to raise funds without selling alcohol. There were many different ways to raise funds without alcohol. He was not there to dictate what those ways were. There needed to be creative minds in schools. The State should also lend a helping hand. Schools were underfunded. The funding that was given was not enough. Parliament, through various means, should try and ensure that it raised funds. If it meant that income tax needed to be automated, it was just a suggestion, then it should be done. People were avoiding paying tax. People were owing SARS a lot of money. Parliament also needed to come up with solutions. It could not always be the one coming up with questions, especially to the people that expected it to have answers. He discussed MST schools. In some cases, there would be communities who supported it. However, was the child happy to study those subjects? If the child was happy then it was fine. Would those who came up after them want to do the same? He noted that there was one school in a particular area that was an MST school. He had mentioned KwaMhlanga because that was where he matriculated. His group was the last group to do economic, business studies and accounting. Learners there were either doing physical sciences or life sciences. It did not really do justice. It was not correct to say that if a learner wanted another stream that they could just travel to another school. These people were poor. They did not have the luxury of having R16 for a taxi every day. Most of that people did not have that luxury. It could not be expected for the learner to walk 45 mins to school every morning and then 45 mins back home. There was no digitised education. Learners were carrying heavy bags filled with books, walking such long distances. There were learners who had to cross rivers barefoot. There should be enough schools first and then there could be talk about converting. He discussed Vaal Reefs Technical High School. There were subjects that were phased out. That was his concern. The Secretary-General of SALC was a learner in that school. SALC always had a problem with that school, especially the current principal. Subjects had been phased out. Yes, they were producing engineers but did everyone want to be an engineer? Not everyone could be an engineer. What about that learner who wanted to do something else? What about that learner who wanted to be an actor? What about the learner who wanted to be a musician? What about the learner who wanted to be a sound engineer working at the SABC? Technical subjects did not put them on that path. Certain universities and TVET colleges had requirements of what subjects should have been done in high school in order to pursue a certain degree. There needed to be enough schools first. For now, the SALC did not support it. It should be removed. South Africa was not ready for it as a country. There were not enough schools. He noted that just because the amendment was being done now did not mean that the Bill could not be amended again next year. He noted the numbers declining in Mpumalanga schools. It was a serious concern. It went back to the opinions or recommendations that perhaps higher education should be made compulsory in some sense. Perhaps the exit age and all those things needed to be looked at again. People needed to stop asking principals and teachers to call learners and stop pregnancies. Why did Parliament not go to communities and come to community halls? The community would come. Parliament could ask all the community members what was wrong and what was happening. He provided an example of a school where the principal was alleged to have been involved in corruption and misuse of school funds. Learners started leaving.  The MEC came, who was not the Premier of that province, to the school. The learners’ grievances were raised with him. The grievances were never addressed. He listened to inputs but nothing really happened and learners kept on leaving the school. Most of the learners who attended that school did not matriculate. Communities needed to be consulted in a broader sense. Parliament needed to consult these communities and hear what was wrong. Parliament did oversight and needed to call community meetings. Parliament needed to call more community meetings and needed to call more schools. If Parliament invited the SALC it would be there. The SALC was against the discriminatory admission policy. SALC did not believe that an admission policy should contravene section 9 of the Constitution. That was why SALC believed that the function should be centralised. This was not to say that an HOD should determine what the language policy was. The procedure was that the SGB must submit it to the HOD. The HOD needed to go through it and see if it was in line with whatever was happening in that community. If there were those who were aggrieved, the courts were always accessible. It was not a big use for the SALC, but it was against discriminatory admission policy. He discussed the role of learners in recruitment panels. Learners were members of SGBs. They should be trained as SGB members to fulfil their responsibilities as SGB members, like Members of Parliament were instructed. In 1994, none of the Members had been in Parliament. There were those who had not been exposed to this kind of setting. There were those who did know how to analyse a Bill. How were they inducted? The Chairperson should not undermine secondary school learners. He said that because he was living proof. He knew that section 10 of the SA Schools Act prohibited corporal punishment when he was in grade 8. The learners should not be undermined to that extent. The learners could read and write. Most could read to comprehend. Learners could elect from among themselves learners of high calibre and those of high intellect to be able to fulfill such functions, statutory functions that was stipulated in legislation such as the SA Schools Act. He discussed indigenous languages. The SALC was not against indigenous languages being recognised. The only reason why it did not include that particular aspect in its submissions was that even with some of the official languages they were not properly documented. He provided an example of isiNdebele where there was not a word for certain things. Words were borrowed here and there. SALC had not done research on indigenous languages. Who was SALC to speak on behalf of the indigenous people? Through the National House of Traditional Leaders and Khoisan Leaders, the Committee would be able to receive some proper input on indigenous languages. He discussed language policies. It was a good idea for learners to write mathematics in isiZulu. What use would it be if whatever they would be doing in university or the TVET college would be in English? The Committee should at some stage have a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education. It needed to be ensured that the legislation in these two sectors was aligned. He hoped that one day students in universities would be able to do political science in their mother tongue, like in other countries. He noted that there was the problem that there was no coordination in Government and Parliament. Parliament needed to pull up its socks.

The Chairperson thanked the SALC for its submission. The submission of the SALC would be incorporated in the Committee’s consolidated report.

National Governors Association Submission

Mr Marks Ramasike, National Governors Association, made the presentation to the Committee.

Note: PMG did not cover this presentation and the end of the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.

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