Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill: DBE briefing

Education (WCPP)

04 April 2024
Chairperson: Ms D Baartman (DA)
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Meeting Summary

Video (Part 1)

Video (Part 2)

The Standing Committee on Education hosted a two-part public hearing to receive public comments on the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill for submission to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Responses were received from a wide range of stakeholders, including parents who homeschool their children, educationists, community organisations, legal experts, political parties, and trade unions.

The consensus among speakers was largely opposition to the Bill due to concerns over parental rights, education quality, and child well-being. Objections included external influences on education, lack of stakeholder consultation, and specific clauses on attendance, language policies, and sexuality education. The inclusion of provisions for the criminal prosecution of parents who failed to ensure their children's school attendance was strongly criticised. An overriding objection was the emphasis on centralised government control of the education system.

The majority of the participants rejected the Bill entirely, advocating improved education standards and increased consideration of parental and community input.

Meeting report

Chairperson's opening remarks

The Chairperson greeted everyone, welcoming them to the Education Committee of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament. She said the focus of the session would be public input on the Basic Education Amendment Laws (BELA) Bill for the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). She requested Members to introduce themselves, and outlined the afternoon's procedures.

Mr C Fry (DA,) introduced himself, followed by Mr F Christians (ACDP), Mr C Poole (DA), and Ms P Harris (ANC).

The Chairperson acknowledged apologies from Mr K Sayed (ANC) and Mr G Brinkhuis (Al Jama-ah). She then introduced Ms Wasiema Hassen-Moosa as the Procedural Officer, explaining her role in guiding the Committee through proper procedures.

After the Department of Basic Education (DBE) introduced itself, the Chairperson explained the legislative process under Section 76, outlining the journey of the BELA Bill from the national Parliament to the NCOP and the involvement of provincial public input. She clarified the role of the Committee in listening to submissions, discussing amendments, and forming a negotiating mandate to be presented to the NCOP. She emphasised that the public hearings were for gathering input, not for voting, and reminded everyone of the deadline for written submissions, which was midnight on the same evening.

Due to Ramadan, the Chairperson noted the option for those observing to leave early and requested they be given priority during the submission process. Attendees were also given the option to join the meeting online or via YouTube.

Explaining the submission process, the Chairperson provided examples for agreeing, disagreeing, or suggesting amendments to clauses in the Bill. She emphasised the importance of allowing everyone an opportunity to speak and explained the timing system for submissions.

BELA Bill Presentation

An official from the DBE delved into the details of the BELA bill, which seeks to amend two pieces of legislation -- the South African Schools Act and the Employment of Educators Act. The focus of the Bill was clarified as being on governance and management, rather than infrastructure or curriculum. He highlighted changes such as redefining basic education to include Grade R, amending the definition of competent assessor, and expanding the scope of legislation dealing with corporal punishment and special education needs.

Additionally, the amendments were aimed at adjusting school attendance regulations to address learner dropout rates and to intervene in admission policies if they did not align with constitutional principles. The Bill also empowered the Minister to appoint outside agencies for curriculum development, and emphasised adherence to the Constitution in school codes of conduct and language policies. Provisions were made for interventions in cases of conflict of interest among governing body members, and for remuneration of expenses incurred in the execution of duties. The presentation concluded with discussions on exemption from school fees, and penalties for submitting false documents.

(See attached)


The Chairperson announced her intention to proceed with taking hands in a specific order. Those observing Ramadan in the Chamber would be prioritised, followed by those in the gallery, and individuals participating online. After accommodating those observing Ramadan, she said others could leave if they wished to do so. She noted the number of people raising their hands, and advised them to remember their assigned numbers for reference.

Home schooling student

A 15-year-old homeschooling student, representing himself as a member of the public, addressed the assembly. He began by expressing his preference for the Cambridge curriculum and his rejection of certain aspects of the Bill under discussion. He argued that his parents, who had always prioritised his well-being, should have the freedom to make educational decisions on his behalf, as they understood him better than anyone else. He asked why his parents' choices regarding his education were now being questioned, and emphasised the importance of personal autonomy in determining one's educational path.

Reflecting on his own experiences, he described traditional schooling as uninspiring and rigid, contrasting it with the flexibility and self-expression afforded by homeschooling. He attributed his success as a learner to the individualised nature of homeschooling, which allowed him to flourish without conforming to societal norms.

Drawing on the words of Nelson Mandela, he stressed the significance of empowering young people to pursue education tailored to their needs, thereby preparing them to become future leaders. Concluding his address, he expressed gratitude for the opportunity to voice his opinions, and urged the assembly to grant him the right to choose his educational approach.

Home schooling parent

Prof Atia Adam, a homeschooling parent and academic with expertise in the international primary lower secondary curriculum, voiced her opposition to clause 35 of the Bill, which requires parents to seek registration for their children's education from the head of department (HOD). She raised questions about the qualifications of HODs, their knowledge of diverse curricula, and the criteria used for approving registrations. She challenged the notion of giving control over children's education to a subjective authority, highlighting the principles of freedom enshrined in the South African Constitution.

Drawing on her extensive international experience, Prof Adam accused government of overreach and control, neglecting the rights and choices of citizens. She urged Members to consider the definitions of indoctrination and control, warning against imposing beliefs without scrutiny. She appealed to government's sense of legacy and responsibility towards future generations, emphasising the importance of listening to the people and protecting children from political agendas.

She warned the government against acting selfishly, and urged them to consider the long-term consequences of their actions, imploring it to refrain from treating people as mere objects for personal gain and to respect the autonomy of families in educational matters. In conclusion, she called for a halt to the imposition of control by a select few, and urged the government to act in the best interests of children and future generations.

SA Congress for Early Childhood Development

Ms Melissa Jacobs, Chairperson, South African Congress for Early Childhood Development, highlighted the significance of early childhood development (ECD), and expressed the need for significant amendments to clause two of the Bill concerning ECD. She pointed out that on 1 April 2022, the DBE had assumed responsibility for ECD curriculum development from the Department of Social Development (DSD). She questioned why the Bill did not address the ECD, despite its crucial role in laying the foundation for the country's future, emphasising that 80% of brain development occurred during the first five to six years of life.

Referring to the White Paper, Ms Jacobs underscored the importance of registering ECD centres and highlighted the rigorous process involved, indicative of the seriousness attached to holistic child development. She mentioned the existence of a national curriculum framework for ECD, and reiterated her query regarding the omission of ECD from the Bill.

People's Movement for Change

The Deputy President: Women’s Command, People's Movement for Change (PMC), began by introducing herself as a representative of South Africa's indigenous nation. She questioned the reliance on foreign influences in education, despite promises of decolonisation by the Department of Basic Education. Highlighting the efforts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) towards educational uniformity, she expressed concern over the potential stifling of South Africa's innovation and diversity.

She rejected Clause 6 of the BELA Bill, insisting that the Minister should not appoint individuals without roots in South Africa. Moving on to the implications of the Bill, she emphasised how it could infringe on parental rights, citing the example of choosing religious schooling for her sons. She argued against the Bill's requirement for an approved homeschooling curricula, citing its detrimental cost.

She emphasised the distinction between education and schooling, advocating a broader understanding of education beyond compulsory attendance. She called for greater consultation with the people of South Africa before appointing curriculum advisors, and urged protection against foreign influences in national education regulations.

She warned against losing South Africa's cultural richness, and urged for changes and regulations to be made with the free, prior, and informed consent of its citizens. She expressed concern about the country's children being influenced by foreign ways, advocating the preservation of South Africa's unique cultural identity.

The Chairperson reminded attendees about the time allocation for submissions, emphasising fairness and equal opportunity for all. She said that if one person was given a certain amount of time, it must be applied consistently to everyone. Acknowledging that two minutes may feel limiting, she assured attendees that the written submission process would be reiterated at the end for those who wished to provide additional input. While she understood that members of the public might not be as familiar with the rules as Committee Members, she encouraged cooperation to accommodate as many submissions as possible.

Al-Waagah Institute for the Deaf

Dr Cassiem de Wet, Director, Al-Waagah Institute for the Deaf, said that as a member and chairperson of the institute, as well as a parent and grandparent, he voiced his rejection of the Bill for several reasons.

Firstly, he disagreed with many clauses that did not align with the educational values of his family and community. He particularly objected to Clause 2, which mandates Grade R in most independent schools, arguing that the DBE's poor record of service delivery and budget management raised doubts about its ability to implement this effectively. He expressed concern about the potential negative impact on the education system if resources were diverted from other areas to implement Grade R.

He also opposed Clause 35, which seeks to regulate homeschooling. He argued that homeschooling was a parental responsibility necessitated by the state's failure to provide adequate education. He objected to the burden of registration and associated costs placed on independent homeschooling initiatives.

He also called for accountability across the board, suggesting that if parents were to be charged for non-compliance, officials within the Department of Education, including the Member of the Executive Council (MEC), should also face consequences for failing in their duties.

Homeschooling parent

A homeschooling parent expressed opposition to the Bill, citing concerns about its vague and ambiguous wording. She specifically raised objections to Clause 35, which grants the Minister power to approve or revoke home-schooling applications based on their judgment of the child's best interests. She questioned how the Minister could determine what was best for her child without knowing them personally.

The parent worried that the Minister might not accept their choice to focus on religious studies or employ natural learning methods. She also questioned the suitability of the assessments required by the Bill, particularly for specialist children, and raised concerns about assessment anxiety.

Moreover, the parent argued that home schooling was fundamentally different from traditional schooling and should be treated separately. She rejected the definitions of basic and further education provided in the Bill, deeming them outdated and narrow, and called for more flexibility to accommodate the evolving landscape of education.

The parent urged for a reconsideration of Clause 35, and advocated for home schooling to be recognised as a distinct form of education with its own regulations. She emphasised the need for a more nuanced understanding of home schooling methods and the diverse needs of home schooled children.

Another home schooling mother introduced herself, and expressed her perspective as a parent raising her children according to the laws of Allah. She emphasised the primacy of these laws in guiding her parenting decisions, stating that no other law was superior to them. She posed a single question, asking who, as a God-fearing parent regardless of their religion, would choose to support the Bill.

The Chairperson thanked the attendees and informed them they were welcome to leave if they wished or to continue participating in in-person or online. She clarified that all voting in the Committee was public, with no secret ballots, and encouraged attendees to access information on Committee meetings through various channels, such as YouTube and the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG).

She then announced the process for submissions, asking those in the gallery who wished to speak to make their way down, and indicated that online submissions would also be accepted. She proceeded to allocate numbers to those in the chamber who wished to speak, reminding them to remember their numbers for reference.

Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools

Mr André Franken, Provincial Manager, Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools (FEDSAS), Western Cape, introduced himself as a father, grandfather, and former school principal with a passion for education. He expressed FEDSAS's rejection of several clauses in the Bill, focusing specifically on clauses four and five concerning admission and language policies in public schools.

His main objection to these proposed amendments was the centralisation of powers in the HOD, which he argued contradicted constitutional values and the objectives outlined in various education documents. He believed that such centralisation would undermine the rights that South Africa had gained over the past 25 years, and would potentially revert public schools back to state schools.

Regarding admissions disputes, Mr Franken noted that disputes typically arose from questions of school capacity rather than admission policies. He suggested that the state should focus on ensuring an adequate number of schools, rather than increasing the capacity of already overcrowded schools. He also criticised the Bill's attempt to limit governing bodies' power to determine language policies, arguing that it deprived parents of their right to choose the language of instruction in schools.


A representative from AfriForum, representing approximately 315 000 contributing individuals, expressed strong opposition to the BELA Bill, and called for its scrapping. She highlighted concerns about proposed amendments to sections 4 and 5 of the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996.

She criticised the DBE for its failure to build sufficient schools, leading to a yearly occurrence of children not being placed in Grades 8 and 1. She argued against disenfranchising parents and cramming more children into existing schools, and instead advocated the construction of additional schools.

Regarding the Bill's provisions, particularly in sections 4 and 5, she voiced objections to the significant increase in state power and the proposal granting provincial Heads of Education the final say over school language policies. She viewed these measures as detrimental to single-medium African schools and model language education in South Africa, with potentially dire consequences for quality education.

She also highlighted the Bill's failure to address recent developments in education, such as distance learning and home schooling following the COVID-19 lockdowns. She emphasised the importance of accommodating diverse educational options, including home schooling, and urged the empowerment of schools, school communities, parents and the youth. She called for the scrapping of the Bill and the drafting of new legislation that embraces and accommodates various educational approaches.

Amano Organisation

Mr Amano, representing the Amano Organisation, expressed support for the Bill. He noted that while the Bill did not directly discuss placement issues, it contained sensible provisions particularly relevant in provinces like the Western Cape, where many learners remained unplaced. He highlighted the significance of the Bill's other aspects, such as the national government's intervention in educational matters.

He also mentioned concerns about issues like same-sex toilets not addressed in the Bill. Regarding home schooling, he highlighted misunderstandings and stressed the need for clarity on the subject.

He emphasised the challenges the Western Cape province faced, particularly in areas like Mitchells Plain, with inadequate support from the education department. He urged Members of Parliament to consider the difficulties faced by children without school placements or adequate resources, emphasising the importance of prioritising their needs over trivial distractions.

The Rev Fredericks of Mitchells Plain

Rev Fredericks said he was a resident of Mitchells Plain, and was grateful for the opportunity to share his views on the valuable aspects mentioned by the advocate representing the DBE. He agreed with a previous speaker's point that Grade R had already been recognised, thus seeing no need for clause two. He also disagreed with the compulsory nature of Grade R. He echoed the concerns raised about Early Childhood Development (ECD).

Regarding clause 35, he shared apprehension and concern, likening it to the initial disregard for COVID and then the subsequent emphasis on remedial measures. He questioned the intent of the BELA Bill, expressing discomfort with its implications for parental rights and the perceived control by the state over children's upbringing.

He briefly touched on historical abuses, expressing concern about the diminishing power of teachers and parents. He cited examples of children asserting their rights in inappropriate ways, and lamented the lack of discipline in schools, attributing it partly to the prevalence of social media.

He criticised government's handling of issues on the Cape Flats, highlighting problems with infrastructure and teaching quality. He urged government to invest money where needed instead of misappropriating funds. He spoke as a concerned parent striving to raise his children in challenging circumstances, expressing a desire for them to excel and make their community proud. He passionately pleaded for the rejection of the BELA Bill.

Learner's parent

A parent expressed her belief in her right to determine how to educate her children, emphasising her faith and conviction that her children were a gift from God. She rejected the Bill on the grounds that it mandates registration, questioning the authority behind these amendments and expressing concern about external influences such as UNESCO and the UN dictating educational practices in Africa.

She argued that African parents should have the autonomy to educate their children according to their cultural values and beliefs, especially considering the lack of infrastructure comparable to overseas standards. She objected to the notion of comprehensive education being imposed on African children, preferring to home school her child and select a curriculum aligned with her values.

She asserted her intention to instil specific moral and ethical teachings in her child, including principles such as waiting for marriage, which she believed were essential for her child's development. She reiterated her opposition to governmental interference in parental decision-making regarding their children's education.

Stellenbosch Backyard Dwellers Forum

A representative of the Forum expressed her rejection of the Bill. She referred to the fact that government had been closing schools in the townships, so children had to take buses or taxis to get to schools far from their homes. Schools were withholding their children's reports when fees were unpaid, without taking into consideration the dire financial circumstances of many parents. She accused government of neglecting the coloured community, leading to serious social problems affecting the children in her area.

Women's Convention, Western Cape

Ms Ursula Griffiths, Provincial Convener: ACC, Western Cape Women's Convention, expressed her strong opposition to the Bill, advocating its rejection. She highlighted the importance of manners instilled in those born in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, referencing her own experience and that of her relatives, particularly noting the respect for her Muslim cousins' religious beliefs.

Ms Griffiths questioned the intentions behind the Bill and government's role in dictating children's upbringing, and asserted the right of parents to make decisions for their families. She criticised the lack of investment in rural education and infrastructure, emphasising the need for funds to be allocated appropriately.

She presented written submissions and community signatures opposing the Bill, particularly from wards four and seven, and stressed her determination to protect her daughter's privacy and preserve Afrikaans in schools. She expressed concern that changes to the Bill could occur without public input, leaving citizens powerless to intervene. She firmly rejected the BELA Bill on behalf of her community and expressed frustration at the potential disregard for their concerns.


Ms Eleanor van der Merwe, representing the African Christian Democratic Party's (ACDP's) Women of Destiny, introduced herself as a proud wife, mother of three sons, and grandmother of four. She expressed her vehement rejection of the proposed Bill, questioning the trustworthiness of those responsible for it due to concerns about theft, dishonesty, and the potential impact on children's identities.

She highlighted constitutional principles, such as the acknowledgement of God and the freedom of choice, expressing dismay at what she perceived as a lack of common sense in understanding biological differences between genders. She elaborated on the roles of males and females as defined by God, citing biblical references to support her argument against same-sex marriage and government's interference in parental rights.

Ms Van der Merwe asserted South Africa's belief in strong family values and parental authority in raising children according to religious beliefs. She rejected the BELA Bill based on theological beliefs, Christian interpretations and constitutional rights, urging government to refrain from implementing what she deemed as ungodly systems in the country. She called for the preservation of South Africa's educational integrity, and opposed the Bill for the third time.

Ms Elisma Grobbelaar, another member of the ACDP and a home schooling mother of three children, expressed her desire for the education department to respect parents' rights to home school their children according to their beliefs and values.

While acknowledging that much of her concerns regarding home schooling had been addressed by previous speakers, she focused her attention on Clause 39 of the Bill. She quoted a section of the clause, expressing her discomfort with its extension of ministerial powers to regulate learner pregnancy management. She highlighted her rejection of the BELA Bill, particularly Clause 39, and asserted her belief in God's sole authority over life. She declared her family's commitment to serving the Lord, and emphasised her determination not to allow anyone else to make decisions for them in this regard.

Ms Desre Louis, representing the ACDP, likened aspects of the Bill to the control exerted during apartheid, criticising the proposed legislation for seeking to centralise control over children, contrary to the decentralisation efforts initiated by the new government post-apartheid.

Drawing attention to historical events like Sharpeville, she questioned the wisdom of reverting to centralised government control. She specifically rejected clauses 25, 35 and 39, focusing on the latter, which empowers the Minister to regulate learner pregnancy. She voiced concerns about the broad and vague language of the clause, fearing potential future misuse.

She accused the DBE of prioritising comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) over addressing learner pregnancy, expressing alarm at the sexualisation of young children through scripted lesson plans. Despite evidence suggesting the ineffectiveness of CSE, she warned that educators would be compelled to follow these plans or face dismissal and even imprisonment under the proposed legislation.

As a former teacher and psychologist, she argued against the harm CSE could inflict on children, and advocated the adoption of the ACDP's amendment to address learner pregnancy. She highlighted the importance of consulting home schoolers on curriculum regulations. She firmly rejected the Bill and urged its rejection, asserting her stance against the BELA Bill.

Mother/grandmother's input

Ms Judy Williams introduced herself as a mother and grandmother, expressing her rejection of the BELA Bill, particularly focusing on clauses 25, 35 and 39. She called for the inclusion of early childhood development in the Bill. She voiced her opposition to Clause 25, which allows the closure of public micro schools without giving reasons, particularly affecting deep rural area schools.

She highlighted the importance of rural schools as centres of social interaction and cultural learning, expressing concern over the long distances students had to travel and the unreliable transport services provided by certain contractors. She emphasised the need to respect the freedom of home schooling and parental authority in instilling values in their children, citing biblical teachings on child-rearing.

Addressing the challenges faced by ECD practitioners, she recounted her experiences of fraud by social development authorities, and the lack of clear guidelines for ECDs. She expressed frustration at the sudden requirement for registration with the Department of Education, feeling neglected and uncertain about the future of ECDs. She urged for greater consideration of ECDs' needs and a reassessment of the BELA Bill.

The Chairperson addressed Ms Williams, acknowledging her concerns about ECD registration and offering to provide additional information through the procedural officer. She also mentioned a website that could offer helpful resources.

Afrikaans school's principal

A participant expressed his perspective as the principal of one of South Africa's oldest public Afrikaans-speaking schools, which predominantly uses Afrikaans as the medium of instruction. He highlighted concerns about the diminishing number of pure Afrikaans-medium schools in Cape Town and the potential consequences of removing governing bodies' authority over language decisions.

He expressed scepticism about the National Assembly's consideration of recommendations, and questioned the predetermined outcome of the meeting. He expressed regret for past injustices and rejected associating with the government of that era, emphasising the futility of trying to address historical injustices through punitive legislation targeting the current generation.

Lastly, he emphasised the importance of focusing on the country's real problems, advocating quality education through qualified educators and genuine investment from the Department of Basic Education, rather than political manoeuvring.

Parliamentary obligations regarding public participation

The Chairperson provided information about two significant court judgments in South Africa regarding public participation -- the judgment from 2016, and the Mohale judgment, which dictated parliamentary obligations regarding public engagement. She clarified that any perceived missteps by the National Assembly were separate from the responsibilities of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament.

She emphasised the Committee's commitment to fulfilling its constitutional duty, both at the national and provincial levels, and outlined the extensive public participation efforts undertaken, including seven public hearings and the receipt of over 5 300 written submissions. She underscored her personal dedication to public participation, highlighting innovations such as introducing WhatsApp as a medium for engagement and ensuring transparency through YouTube broadcasts and independent PMG reports.

She encouraged attendees to hold their representatives accountable, and provided avenues for them to stay informed about parliamentary activities.

Parent of four children

Ms Cindy Styles introduced herself as a parent of four children, and reiterated her rejection of the BELA Bill. She emphasised her role as a parent in making decisions for her children's education, expressing concern about clauses 2, 3, 5, 6, 20, 33, 35, 39, 40 and 50, which she believed infringed on parental rights.

She shared a personal experience where her eldest child had been exposed to age-inappropriate and harmful content at school, which had negatively affected her emotional and psychological well-being. Despite her objections, she felt that the Education Department prioritised the interests of the school and teachers over the well-being of her child. This had led her to home school her children for a year, and her eldest had thrived with the Cambridge curriculum.

She stressed the importance of freedom of choice in education, advocating alternative curriculums that better-suited children's needs and were aligned with family values. She highlighted concerns about certain subjects like Life Orientation and the content of Comprehensive Sexuality Education, which she believed contradicted many families' morals and values.

She argued against giving the Minister the authority to make future regulations and amendments to education, emphasising the need to protect independent schools and smaller education centres from government interference. She thanked the Committee for considering the well-being and protection of South African children, and urged them to reject the BELA Bill.

Destiny Fulfilled

Ms Michelle Abrahams introduced herself as a representative of Destiny Fulfilled, an empowerment organisation for children and women. She identified herself as a mother of two boys attending a public school, and expressed her opposition to the BELA Bill for the sake of her children's future.

She highlighted her concerns about Clause 39 of the Bill, which grants the Minister extended powers to regulate various matters, including the management of learner pregnancy. She expressed apprehension about potential controversial topics being included over time, particularly regarding comprehensive sexual education and abortion policies. She cited the Children's Act, which allows minors as young as 12 to undergo abortions without parental consent, as a reason for rejecting Clause 39.

As a parent, she asserted that ultimate authority over issues like learner pregnancy should reside with parents, who were the custodians of their children's well-being. She emphasised the importance of empowering families and preserving parental authority over their children's values, reiterating her rejection of the BELA Bill.

The Chairperson informed the attendees that notifications about the hearings were sent out twice to every single school in the province, including independent schools, through the Procedural Officer's office and Parliament. Additionally, notifications were sent to all municipalities.

Community member

A community member recalled that when he was in matric, there had been only 15 learners in his class, but today, there are anything from 30 to 60 in a class. He called on the government to address this situation, but welcomed the compulsory nature of Grade R. He strongly criticised the proposed criminalisation of parents who did not send their children to school.

Ms Sharon Lang, a member of the ACDP, spoke briefly about the violence in her community, Heideveld, which had seen shootings and killings almost daily for the past three weeks due to young children not being in school. They could not attend because the schools were full, which meant they had to travel to schools in other areas, at the cost of the parents. The toilets were often some way from the schools, and she questioned how the government could introduce same-sex facilities. She rejected the Bill.

People's Movement for Change (PMC)

Mr Sammy Claassen, of the PMC, said that if the BELA bill was passed in Parliament, it would have a devastating effect on the schooling system, as well as on parenthood and the behaviour of children. The Bill denied parents their constitutional right to educate their children. It aimed to indoctrinate the learners with new norms and standards through superpowers imposed by the state. It cripples the school governing body system in respect of disciplinary procedures and the appointment of teachers. It was an attempt to impose overseas educational systems on South Africa, but these were not suitable for local conditions. The PMC rejected the Bill. and the Red List

A representative of "" and the Red List said she was speaking on behalf of 119 776 people who had voted against the BELA Bill, with an additional 900 who had expressed opposition. She emphasised the significance of these numbers, and asserted that these individuals deserved consideration.

She highlighted two clauses of concern. Firstly, Clause 2 mandates compulsory attendance of Grade R for any child turning six in that school year, potentially leading to penalties or criminal records for parents who disagree. She questioned the alignment of this with constitutional rights and the child's best interests.

Secondly, she expressed concern about government's adoption of comprehensive sexuality education, developed by foreign unelected organisations like the United Nations, UNESCO and the World Health Organisation (WHO). She cited policy guidelines suggesting exposure to sensitive topics for children as young as five, emphasising the developmental concerns and lack of accountability in consulting foreign entities outlined in Clause 6.

Submission of views for online platform

The Chairperson thanked the attendees and reminded them of the importance of submitting their views on the online platform. She urged them to email their submissions to the procedural officer before midnight, as this would ensure their views were included in the public participation process. She reiterated that the deadline was midnight, and promised to provide the email address again at the conclusion of the speakers.

The "" representative expressed her concern about the incorporation of votes from an unofficial referendum into the public participation process. She mentioned that they had conducted the referendum because they had been denied the right to have an official one due to the government not providing regulations for it, despite it being a constitutional item, with its own act. She emphasised that the votes from their referendum represented a clear majority and that many people had participated, but the conversion rate had been low because some were hesitant to provide their identity document (ID) numbers.

The Chairperson clarified that South Africa currently does not have a national act allowing referendums. Therefore, there was no official way to conduct a referendum in the country. However, she encouraged "" to forward the information from the unofficial referendum to the procedural officers so that it could be included and considered as part of the Western Cape public participation process. This information should be submitted by the deadline tonight.

Member of the public

A member of the public expressed her opposition to the BELA Bill, particularly highlighting concerns with clauses 1 and 2. She objected to compulsory Grade R education, citing overcrowded classrooms and a lack of consideration for the best learning methods for young children. She recommended smaller class sizes and well-equipped settings to nurture creativity and a love for learning. She also argued against compulsory matriculation, advocating alternative paths for learners with different skills. She expressed support for the home schooling community and cautioned against the influence of external organisations on South Africa's educational system. Finally, she urged the ANC to consider the implications of the Bill, and prayed for wisdom in their decision-making.

Let's do it 2gether 4 EDUCATION

Mr Niresh Dahl (sp), of Let's do it 2gether 4 EDUCATION, a registered non-profit organisation (NPO), presented a request for an amendment to the BELA Bill, referred to the "missing middle" students, and focused on the inclusion of micro cottage centres. He highlighted the unique role these centres play in providing personalised educational experiences in smaller, flexible learning environments. He emphasised that they should not be seen as competing with larger schools, but rather as offering alternative solutions to address the limitations of traditional education. He proposed the establishment of a standards commission to ensure quality control, compliance with educational and safety standards, and ethical practices.

The NPO requested that the BELA Bill be amended to recognise and regulate Micro Cottage Centres, providing them with the opportunity to gain official recognition and accreditation. He emphasised that this would expand access to education and improve its quality for all members of society.

Home Schooling South Africa

Ms Rebekka Liebenberg, Founder and Director, Home Schooling South Africa, outlined several reasons why her organisation rejects the BELA Bill. Firstly, she emphasised that the registration process outlined in the Bill essentially binds home schooling parents without giving them the ability to modify or reject the terms, thus jeopardising parental rights and subjecting them to criminal liability and financial burdens.

Secondly, she criticised the punitive measures outlined in the Bill, such as the threat of imprisonment for home schooling without registration, deeming it unfair and unreasonable. She argued that the Bill creates circumstances that make it nearly impossible for home schoolers to comply with the law.

Thirdly, she raised concerns about the excessive power afforded to the Minister under the Bill, echoing sentiments shared by other presenters regarding the potential for abuse of authority.

She expressed disappointment at how the public hearings were conducted, suggesting that the Department of Basic Education and Members of Parliament were not adequately representing the interests of parents and schoolchildren. She called for an investigation into the Bill's passage, alleging fraudulent means employed by the DBE.

Lastly, Ms Liebenberg mentioned the referendum voting campaign. She echoed the earlier comments regarding people withholding their ID particulars, emphasising the importance of protecting the identities of participants due to fear of discrimination and a targeted backlash against unregistered home schoolers.

The Chairperson concluded the meeting by expressing gratitude to everyone for their patience and participation. She reiterated the importance of ensuring that all submissions from the public were considered and encouraged further submissions through various channels, including email, online templates, and WhatsApp.

Chairperson's concluding comments

Regarding a question raised about investigating the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), the Chairperson clarified that it fell outside the mandate of the Western Cape Parliament. However, she noted that after the legislative process concludes, individuals or groups had the right to pursue legal action if they believe it is necessary.

She thanked the Members and the public for their engagement, and reminded attendees of the next meeting scheduled for 6:00 pm, when the main session would take place. Refreshments were available for those remaining.

The session was adjourned.

Evening Session

The Chairperson introduced the evening session by explaining the legislative process for handling the Bill, and repeated the information provided to participants at the earlier session. The Department again made a presentation on the Bill.

Mr Brendon Theunissen

Mr Theunissen expressed his concerns about the Bill, highlighting clauses that he believes encroach on the rights of parents and school governing bodies. Specifically, he mentioned Clause 35, which he described as insidious and granting excessive power to the Minister without adequate consultation with the home schooling community.

He drew parallels to oppressive regimes in the past that used centralised control of education to shape ideology and oppress citizens. He urged the Committee not to relinquish the liberty of parents to determine their children's education, emphasising the importance of consulting with parents, home schooling families and educators before making decisions that affect them.

He called on Parliament to revisit the Bill, ensure proper diligence in consulting all stakeholders, including innovative independent educators, and make provision for various teaching strategies and curricula without central government interference. He stressed the importance of upholding the primary rights of parents to determine how and what they teach their children.

Economic Freedom Fighters

A representative of the EFF in the Western Cape expressed his party's support for the Bill but also proposed several amendments. He said there was a need to prohibit the sale of liquor during school hours, and requested that this clause be completely removed from the Bill. He also called for the removal of clauses related to the termination of pregnancy among children.

He highlighted the importance of school governing bodies (SGBs), in making decisions about school policies and admissions. He urged the government not to undermine the authority of SGBs and to ensure that they retain the power to control admissions to schools. He pointed out disparities in class sizes between schools of different racial demographics, and called for amendments to address these disparities, ensuring equitable access to education for all students.

Father of six children

Mr Brent Norris introduced himself as a father of six children, five of whom were currently home schooled. He expressed his opposition to the Bill, particularly focusing on clause 35, which requires approval from the Head of Department for him to home school his children. He believed this requirement infringed upon his parental rights to decide what was best for his children.

Furthermore, he rejected the notion that an assessor, who may not be familiar with the home schooling curriculum or learning outcomes, could accurately assess his children at his expense. He advocated r greater engagement between the DBE and the homeschooling community before implementing such stringent laws.

Home schooling family

Ms Sanna-Lee van Niekerk said that as a home schooling family committed to quality education and critical thinking, she rejected the Bill, particularly focusing on clause 35. She emphasised her belief in parental responsibility, as outlined in the Children's Act and the Bill of Rights, to prioritise their children's best interests.

She highlighted concerns about the broad regulatory powers granted to the Minister in the Bill, which could potentially infringe on parental autonomy and children's educational freedoms. She asserted that while the DBE had stated that home schoolers would retain curriculum freedom, the Bill's language did not explicitly guarantee this freedom. The requirement for assessments aligned with the national curriculum, conducted by assessors unfamiliar with home schooling approaches, was seen as a restriction on children's rights to receive education tailored to their needs and future aspirations.

Moreover, Ms Van Niekerk stressed the importance of fostering 21st-century skills in home schooling, emphasising critical thinking over rote memorisation of facts. She advocated allowing parents to lawfully educate their children while ensuring that the children's best interests remained paramount. She urged the Committee to support parental responsibility in education, envisioning a society where children could flourish and contribute positively to the future.

In conclusion, she quoted Nelson Mandela, pointing out the importance of society's treatment of its children as a reflection of its soul.

Father of home schooled children

A father of five home schooled children said he had been involved with several homeschooling organisations. In 2014, the Western Province Minister of Education published a home schooling policy for comments, with the objective of transforming this sector. After hundreds of objections, it was withdrawn. This policy was now reappearing in the BELA Bill, and when he approached the current Minister, she said she supported it. He said the Western Cape government was at the crossroads, and had to decide whether it supported or rejected the Bill.

Father of home schooled children

Mr Johan Kruger, a homeschooling father of five, expressed concerns about Clause 35 of the Bill, which grants the government extensive power over homeschooling decisions. He argued that this clause should be objectively measurable, based on the children's proficiency in language, maths and science, to prevent subjective interpretations and potential abuse of power.

He commented on the curriculum requirements, suggesting that they should be limited to essential subjects like maths, science and languages, to allow for diversity in education. He criticised the inclusion of jail time for non-compliance, stating that it could harm families and careers, and should be removed from the Bill entirely.

He also questioned the feasibility of adding Grade R to overcrowded schools, arguing that the government should focus on building more schools instead. He lamented the disappearance of cottage schools, which could alleviate pressure on the system and utilise teachers' skills effectively. He proposed that many issues addressed by the Bill could be resolved by reallocating funds and building additional schools to reduce class sizes.

South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU)

A representative from SADTU expressed the union's support for the Bill, stressing the importance of recognising learners in rural areas, especially at the creche (Grade R) level, to address the challenges learners face in rural areas that receive inadequate education. While endorsing the Bill, they proposed amendments to mitigate the criminalisation of parents who were unable to enrol their children in schools. Instead, they suggested hiring personnel to ensure that all children have access to education. The representative also advocated regulating homeschooling, but urged against harsh penalties for parents who struggle to send their children to school. She highlighted government's difficulty in identifying children not attending school, and suggested that regulating home schooling could help monitor if children were getting education.

Democratic Alliance

Ms Oleander Oakes, from the DA, said that the party unequivocally rejects the Bill in its current form. While educational reform was necessary, the Bill failed to address the major issues in South Africa's education system and disregarded the concerns raised in public submissions during the national participation process.

She highlighted the lack of funding for the proposed mandatory Grade R implementation, and expressed concerns about potential cuts to essential programmes. She also opposed the centralisation of power over admission policies, citing potential administrative burdens and risks of abuse. She also noted the Bill's failure to address blended and online learning, despite their importance highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. She emphasised the need for comprehensive legislation and raised concerns about the Bill's concentration of power and its failure to address systemic education issues.

Young learner

A young learner said his parents knew what was best for his education, and the BELA Bill should not impose criminal penalties -- his father was not a criminal.


Ms Theresa Roelofse introduced herself and expressed her rejection of the Bill in its entirety. She outlined four main reasons for her stance. Firstly, she mentioned procedural flaws in the process; secondly, she noted a lack of input from child experts, such as psychologists; thirdly, she expressed concerns about the Bill potentially violating children's and parents' rights; and finally, she acknowledged the extension granted until 17 April 2024 for further revision of the Bill's clauses.

The Chairperson clarified that the extension granted until 17 April was specifically for the Western Cape to submit all of its input on the matter. She explained that the extension had been requested after the Western Cape had submitted multiple letters over two or three months, expressing concerns about representing the Western Cape's views. She emphasised that the extension was intended to ensure that all submissions from the Western Cape were properly considered.


Ms Melanie Terblanche said she had been an admitted attorney since 2001, accumulating 23 years of experience, particularly in children's and family law. She expressed her concerns about the proposed amendments which, in her view, represented a clear move towards authoritarianism and centralised government control. She believed that these changes showed a reluctance to uphold the values and provisions of the Constitution.

She went on to explain that Clause 4 granted the government control over all admission policies. She highlighted her concern with Clause 5, which gave final authority to HODs regarding language policies. She was worried about Clause 15, which empowered HODs to withdraw or dissolve governing bodies, with limited avenues for appeal. She further discussed Section 14, which dealt with the procurement of learning materials, an area where HODs lacked proper governance. She raised questions about Section 26 and why political figures, such as Members of the Executive Council (MECs), were involved in operational matters concerning SGB transactions.

She commented that this legislation appeared to exert significant control, with references to imprisonment occurring more than 16 times. She expressed her rejection of the Bill entirely, because it lacked clarity on how it intended to centralise government control.

She remarked that the public might not fully comprehend these changes, and until the failures in the education system were properly addressed, including overcrowding, funding for compulsory Grade R, deficits in learning materials, dropout rates and school infrastructure, she could not support it. She emphasised that these issues should have been prioritised over diminishing the powers and authority of SGBs and parents.


Mr Peter Terblanche, Servant Leader, #hope4SA, said he was a father of twins. He was speaking on behalf of children and advocating for their protection. He generally rejected the BELA Bill, citing its failure to increase parental responsibility and safeguard children. He pointed out that the current focus of the Bill seemed to be on government control, rather than enhancing education.

He emphasised the need to consider the overall purpose of the Bill, which he believed should primarily focus on protecting children. While acknowledging that the Bill addressed various issues, he argued that it did not sufficiently enhance the quality of education for children. He criticised the Bill for prioritising control and legal matters over substantive educational improvements.

He then focused specifically on Clause 3 concerning pregnancies in schools. He questioned why pregnancies were occurring among school-aged children, and highlighted inconsistencies in laws regarding underage drinking and sexual activity. He criticised comprehensive sexuality education, which he claimed had been teaching children from the age of 12 about condom usage for the past 20 years. He argued that the focus should instead be on addressing the root causes of underage pregnancies.

He questioned whether education support was encroaching on the responsibilities of the Health Department, and said that parents should be the primary educators on such matters. He expressed the belief that sex should be confined to marriage, and criticised the Bill for failing to address this moral aspect adequately. He reiterated his stance that the Bill was missing the mark in addressing the core issues related to children's education and protection.


Mr Donavan Penton, a member of the ACDP, outlined the party's stance on the Bill. Firstly, the ACDP rejected the Bill due to its focus on administrative issues rather than being child-centric. The Bill should prioritise the interests of families and children, implementing the principles of the Children's Act and the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child.

He highlighted the importance of including early childhood development from Grade 0 to Grade R in the act, without extending the compulsory age for schooling. He suggested that any changes in this regard should be made through a separate bill focusing exclusively on ECD, following extensive consultation with the sector and civil society.

He criticised the imposition of jail time for parents failing to register their children for schooling, viewing it as regressive and disproportionately affecting the poor. Instead, he argued that social welfare and the children's court should address such issues.

He called for the removal of clauses regarding SGBs to allow for research on the rejection of admissions based on racial grounds, and national consensus on addressing this issue. He also opposed the closure of small schools without valid reasons.

Regarding home education, he suggested that Section 51 remain unchanged with some positive amendments, acknowledging the lack of research and knowledge within the DBE on home schooling. He urged that regulations should be developed in consultation with home schoolers, as the current clause had been rejected by them. He called for further consultation and amendments to the Bill, expressing his support for these changes.

Biblical values

Mr Leon van der Berg began by expressing his adherence to Christian and biblical values, stating that he rejected the BELA Bill, specifically highlighting clause 39 which amends section 6A(1) of the South African Schools Act. He then quoted a passage from Jeremiah 1:5 from the Bible, emphasising the sanctity of life before birth.

He referred to the final Committee report, alleging that the governing party had failed to disclose the number of opponents to the Bill due to widespread rejection by South Africans. He asserted that one of the main reasons for the rejection was the perception of the Bill as an "abortion bill," granting the Minister the authority to regulate learner pregnancies with selected individuals. He criticised the Ministry's handling of learner pregnancies, citing existing policies as inadequate and the implementation of comprehensive sexuality education as ineffective in reducing sexual activity among learners. He highlighted the Minister's delayed submission of the learner pregnancy policy to Parliament, interpreting it as evidence of the Ministry's lack of seriousness in addressing the issue.

He accused the Ministry and the DBE of using the learner pregnancy crisis to advance their agenda with international partners, suggesting a lack of genuine commitment to resolving the issue.

A lady participant expressed her concerns regarding home schooling and language education. She highlighted the importance of learning in one's own language and the provision of education that respects individuals' faith. She emphasised the need to ensure fairness for everyone in these aspects.

Regarding home schooling, she questioned whether the home schooling curriculum and parental wishes would be disregarded. She stressed the success of home schooling and the positive outcomes for children under this system, contrasting it with perceived shortcomings in the traditional school system. She questioned the rationale behind changing something successful to something perceived as inferior.

She voiced her agreement with others who opposed the Bill, stating that it infringes upon the rights of parents and children to make their own educational choices and decisions.

Former high school teacher and home schooler

Ms Inge Semple, a former high school teacher and homeschooler, expressed her concerns about clause 35 of the Bill, highlighting what she perceived as a lack of understanding of the education process by its creators. Drawing from her experiences in both traditional and home schooling environments, she noted the uniqueness of each child's learning journey.

Recalling her time in the education system in 1987, she recounted instances where struggling students were pushed forward regardless of their readiness, contrasting this with the flexibility and individualised approach she had observed in home schooling her own sons. She questioned why home schoolers could not have their own curricula tailored to their needs, rather than conforming to a standardised system.

She criticised the Bill for seemingly disregarding the challenges within traditional schools, such as dropout rates, overcrowding and absenteeism, while imposing rigid requirements on home schoolers. She expressed frustration at the prospect of home schoolers being forced to adhere to a school-like model and incur additional expenses for independent assessors unfamiliar with their unique approach.

She strongly rejected the Bill in its entirety, urging a focus on addressing issues within the school system rather than imposing restrictions on home schooling.

Clinical psychologist

Ms Ronel de Villiers, a clinical psychologist and Christian, voiced her rejection of the BELA Bill, highlighting several key concerns. Firstly, she emphasised the importance of mother tongue education during the formative years, citing its crucial role in fostering critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and emotional development rooted in culture. She expressed strong opposition to allowing HODs to decide on the language of specific schools, considering it unacceptable given the significance of mother tongue education.

Secondly, she addressed the detrimental impact of comprehensive sexuality education, noting the premature sexualisation of children and the concerning rise of issues like sexting and exposure to pornography among 11-year-olds. She lamented the resulting high pregnancy rates in schools. She criticised the introduction of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) toolkit in Kwazulu Natal without adequate parental involvement, cautioning against its potential influence on impressionable children.

She also raised concerns about gender confusion and the potential consequences of irreversible actions such as sex change operations on young individuals. She condemned the imposition of adult decisions on children without due consideration for their long-term well-being, highlighting cases where parents advocating for their child's best interests faced criminalisation.

Ms De Villiers underscored the need for society to acknowledge the impact of its actions on children, and stressed the importance of parental rights and beliefs in guiding educational and ethical decisions. She spoke passionately from both her professional and personal perspectives, citing her experiences as a psychologist and her Christian faith as driving forces behind her stance.


Mr Leendert Stoop, chairperson of AfrForum's Durbanville branch, opposed the Bill for the following reasons:

In Clause 4, the community will lose its control over school admissions criteria, leading to crowded classrooms and lower quality of education. Clause 5 gives the education authorities the power to determine a school's language policy, which would mean the end of Afrikaans-medium education. The government had its own political and ideological agenda. Clause 14 provided for the centralised control of learning material, leading to the risk of further plundering of government funds. The Bill promoted a socialist system which was in conflict with the country's Constitution. AfriForum would contest the Bill in the highest legal forums.

Sexuality education rejected

Mr Sam Gareth said that it was his God-given responsibility as a father to educate his daughter about sexuality. He also believed it was his responsibility, rather than the school's, to decide whether to educate her about emotions. He stated his rejection of comprehensive sexuality education and the Bill as a whole.

Concern over special needs schools

A citizen expressed her rejection of the Bill in its entirety. She highlighted Clause 25, which addresses the closure of public schools with fewer than 200 children. She argued that closing such schools would exacerbate existing issues of overcrowded classrooms, especially for children with special needs such as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism, who require smaller class sizes. She emphasised that closing these schools would fail to meet the needs of these children.

Regarding Clause 39, she criticised its ambiguity in managing learner pregnancies, noting the absence of specific measures outlined in the Bill. She questioned why children were being exposed to sex at a young age, expressing concern about the potential psychological trauma such exposure could cause, including depression, bipolar disorder, and even suicide.

She also referred to Clause 2, which deals with punishing negligent parents. She argued that this issue should be addressed by children's codes and social services, rather than the Bill itself, and reiterated her rejection of the Bill.

Concern over infrastructure

Ms Elna Wichmann stated her opposition to the BELA Bill. She disagreed specifically with clause two, arguing that it was logical to establish a foundation before constructing a house, metaphorically referring to the need for sufficient infrastructure, qualified educators, and a robust curriculum before enforcing Grade R. She expressed concern that micro-schools, including ECD centres, would face closure and fines under Clause 33, as neither the SA Schools Act (SASA) nor the BELA accounted for their registration.

She stressed the importance of infrastructure alongside the curriculum in education, noting that many schools lack proper facilities. She argued against the restriction of home education to conform to 50% or more of the national curriculum statement, as it would limit the flexibility of home educators to utilise different educational approaches suited to individual children's needs and developmental stages.

Further, she vehemently disagreed with Clause 35, section 16, stating that a minister should not have unrestricted powers to make regulations at their sole discretion, emphasising the need for appropriate oversight in decision-making processes. She concluded by saying the Bill did not contribute to the eradication of poverty, did not provide an education of high quality for all learners, nor did it uphold the rights of all learners, parents and educators. In her opinion, the Bill was all about state control.

Section 27

Ms Mila Harding, representing Section 27, voiced support for the inclusion of the HOD's oversight role over admission and language policies of school governing bodies in Clause 4. However, she expressed concern about the removal of the obligation for the HOD to provide reasons for decisions, which was present in the previous version of the BELA Bill. She stressed that providing reasons was essential for a proper appeals process and ensuring transparency. She also noted the lack of clarity regarding the process if the HOD did not approve a policy and the SGB did not appeal the decision. Additionally, she raised concerns about the HOD's capacity to review all policies, and suggested establishing an office and an individual complaints mechanism to address this issue.

She strongly opposed the increase in criminal sentences for parents who fail to ensure their children attend school in Clause 2 of the Bill, stating that criminalisation of parents was ineffective and not in the best interests of children. However, if criminal sanctions on parents were to be retained, she recommended that certain considerations be made to protect the best interests of the child.

Lastly, she recommended revising Clause 8 of the BELA Bill to include alcohol in the list of banned substances prohibited on school premises. She argued that a blanket ban on alcohol was the most effective way to protect children from exposure to it.

Input from the public

Dr Joy Levine, an early childhood educator and academic, began by asserting that it was the government's responsibility to represent the people and for citizens to be vigilant against power grabs, which she observed was occurring frequently in the country. She expressed concern that stripping away the rights of school governing bodies and parents could lead to unforeseen consequences, even if it pertained to language and policy issues.

As an advocate for a play-based curriculum and a teacher, she highlighted the importance of small, home-based schooling for early childhood development. She cautioned against pushing young children into Grade R programmes far from home, where they may become vulnerable and exposed to overcrowded classrooms with an inadequate age-appropriate curriculum.

Dr Levine expressed worry about external entities such as UNESCO influencing education in the country, particularly regarding comprehensive sex education, which she referred to as a "white elephant." She criticised the trend of introducing such education to children at increasingly younger ages, potentially leading to the erosion of children's natural defences. She also raised concerns about the implications of abortion laws and the introduction of drugs for prevention, gender changes, and abortions into schools, urging extreme caution in this regard.

SA Democratic Teachers Union

Ms Nonceba Duna, SADTU, shared her perspective as a high school teacher who recently witnessed a miscarriage in a school corridor. She highlighted the distressing nature of such incidents, expressing concern about their impact on learners. She emphasised the need for improvements in school facilities to provide privacy and support for those experiencing traumatic events, particularly in light of pregnancies among students. She stressed that while accepting the Bill, amendments were necessary to address facility shortcomings in schools. She also echoed the call for full-time psychologists in schools to support the emotional well-being of students, especially women and children. She underscored the importance of ensuring that all students had the opportunity to become leaders of tomorrow.

Input from the public

A male participant, acknowledging the diverse world views, cultures and religions present, asserted his belief that everyone had the right to raise their children according to their own beliefs, regardless of their background. Therefore, he expressed his rejection of the Bill in its entirety. Before concluding, he shared a biblical perspective, citing Proverbs 22, verse 6: "Train up your child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Retired teacher

Ms Gillian van Wyk, a retired teacher, expressed her ongoing dedication to education despite retirement. She highlighted her concerns regarding language in schools, emphasising the importance of early childhood development and parental involvement in education. She expressed disagreement with certain aspects of the proposed Bill, particularly regarding the requirement for school governing bodies to designate individuals to speak on behalf of the school, without intimate knowledge of the school's affairs.

She also criticised the lack of diversity in educational materials provided by the DBE, noting the challenges faced by students from different backgrounds, such as those in overcrowded classes. She stressed the importance of maintaining Christian values and principles in education. She expressed her commitment to volunteering in schools to support children in need, particularly those with special educational needs who were adversely affected by overcrowded classrooms.

She raised concerns about the logistical challenges faced by educators who were required to oversee multiple schools, resulting in delays in reaching students in need. She urged greater protection for children and called for collaboration among parents, educators, social psychologists and social workers to address these issues.

Retired pre-school teacher

Ms Michele Vorster, a retired pre-school teacher with 40 years of experience, identified herself as a qualified "chaos coordinator," and expressed her passion for learning and global engagement. She reassured the audience, many of whom may be feeling overwhelmed by current events, that they were part of a global movement towards positive change. She highlighted the growing trend of alternative forms of education, such as home schooling, de-schooling, and un-schooling, emphasising the need for collaboration and support among educators and parents.

She encouraged the audience to continue their efforts and multiply them, emphasising the importance of creativity and innovation, particularly in early childhood education. She advocated a shift in mindset, promoting the idea of infinite possibilities and the power of collective intelligence. She urged individuals to become more informed and empowered, as change ultimately came from the people.

She highlighted the concept of societal change, particularly focusing on the stage of depoliticisation, where traditional political structures were losing appeal. She stressed the significance of dialogue and understanding between diverse perspectives, acknowledging the intricate nature of political dynamics. She urged the audience to embrace change, broaden their horizons, and collaborate towards a brighter future.

Reflecting on the notion of right and wrong, Ms Vorster shared a thought-provoking insight: the definition of war was not about what is right or wrong, but rather about who remains. She expressed her willingness to support the group with any relevant information she possesses, despite her recent awareness of the meeting. She commended the attendees for their dedication and passion, advising them to find moments of peace amidst the chaos and to remember that positive change stems from their collective passion and commitment.

People's Movement for Change

Adv Marius Bailey, Deputy Secretary General, People's Movement for Change (PMC), expressed his concerns about the proposed changes to education legislation. He highlighted the importance of community involvement in raising children, citing the proverbial notion that "it takes a village to raise a child." He criticised the emphasis on sanctions in the proposed Bill, arguing that it overlooks the fundamental right to basic education enshrined in the Constitution.

Asserting that many South Africans received quality education from their parents, he declared the PMC's rejection of the Bill in its entirety. Instead, he proposed a focus on improving education standards, rather than merely passing students with a 30% threshold. He emphasised the crucial role of parents in education, and urged the Department of Basic Education to listen to the concerns of the people.

In a bold statement, Adv Bailey suggested that if government were to withdraw the Bill from Parliament, the PMC would consider supporting them in the upcoming elections. However, if the Bill were to proceed against the wishes of the people, he warned of potential consequences for the ruling party.

Closing remarks

The Chairperson acknowledged the overtime of the meeting, and reminded everyone of the deadline for submissions, emphasising that submissions received after midnight would not be considered. She reiterated the email address, online submission form for written submissions, and the unique use of WhatsApp for public participation, providing the contact number for this purpose.

She outlined the next steps in the process, stating that the DBE would need to respond to the submissions received by the Western Cape. She highlighted the significant number of written submissions and attendees at public hearings, indicating the thorough consideration required by the Committee.

Looking ahead, she explained the timeline for further deliberations and decision-making, including the submission of the Western Cape's position to the National Council of Provinces by 17 April. She encouraged individuals to stay informed through various channels like YouTube and the Parliamentary Monitoring Group.

The Chairperson expressed gratitude to all participants for their engagement, acknowledging their commitment to the well-being of children, schools, SGBs and communities.

She adjourned the meeting.


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