SA Council for Educators Bill: briefing

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


8 May 2000

Document handed out:
South African Council for Educators Bill [B26 - 2000]

The South African Council for Educators Bill requires that all educators be registered with SACE in order to be lawfully employed. To date 300 0000 educators have been registered with SACE and it is the Minister of Education's intention that every educator be registered by June 2000 failing which they would be deemed unlawfully employed. The Bill provides for the continuity of the legal personality of SACE with a council composed in accordance with the criteria mentioned in the Bill. More importantly, the Bill provides for all educator sectors (ranging from early childhood development, learners with special educational needs and adult education sectors) both in public and private educational institutions, to be registered with SACE. The three major functions of the SACE are to register educators, promote and maintain the profession's image and to preserve the code of professional ethics.

Background to Bill
Mr D Hindle, Chief Director: Human Resource Planning, stated that before 1994 there had been the South African Teacher's Council but this was discredited because of racial exclusivity. The trade unions, Education Labour Relations Council and the Department of Education had reached a resolution that the South African Council for Educators (SACE) be formed which would be a professional body for educators, as in other professions. It was afterwards felt that this resolution was not the appropriate way to go because this was not entirely a labour relations issue, and it was agreed that legislation should be looked at. The legislation came about in the form of the Employment of Educators Act, but it was felt that this piece if legislation was also not appropriate since this is not strictly an employer/employee issue. Thus it was decided to come up with this Bill.

The primary goal is registration of educators. To date already 300 000 educators have been registered and the Minister of Education has indicated that by June 2000 all educators must be registered failing which they would be unlawfully employed. This has significant implications for provinces especially, because in order for them to employ an educator, such educator must be registered with SACE. SACE's other role would be to deal with discipline and professional ethics and contraventions thereof.

Mr Hindle stated that consultation had been conducted with SACE itself and other stakeholders and the Department. As a result of the consultation, a memorandum had been signed by the Minister and a White Paper after which comments were called for on the draft Bill. The Bill does not come up with something new but provides for the continued operation of SACE in a slightly expanded form. There has been a change in the composition of the Council: instead of it being comprised of two parties, one from the side of the employer and one from the trade unions (which made it seem an adversarial body), a broadening of the categories of parties has taken place. This has been driven by the Minister's notion that the Council has a dual purpose: to take care of the interests of the profession balanced with safeguarding the interests of the community.

It is not the intention of the State to bind itself to any kind of funding of SACE. It is envisaged that the Council would be funded by contributions from those required to pay registration fees.

South African Council for Educators Bill
Advocate Boschoff, Director: Legal Services in the Department, noted that Clause 1 deals with definitions.

Clause 2
The clause deals with the objects of the proposed Act, which are to provide for registration of educators, promote professional development of educators, and to set, maintain and protect ethical and professional standards for educators, by means of the functioning of the council.

Clause 3
The scope of application of the Act is extended to include all educators even those in private institutions and adult educators.

Clause 4
This clause provides for the continuation of the juristic personality of the council.

Clause 5
This clause provides for the functions of the council, nothing new is provided for except that these functions have been grouped in an attempt to make the clause more "user friendly".

Three functions can be identified, namely, registration, promotion and development and maintenance of the profession's image, and maintaining a code of professional ethics.

Clause 6
This clause provides for the composition of the council. The 18 educators to be nominated by the organised profession may be nominated as a collective effort as long as compliance with the stated criteria is met. The criteria is that the 18 members must consist of educators, including principals, employed in each of these sectors: public ordinary schools, independent schools, public further education and training institutions, private further education and training institutions, early childhood development, adult learning centre, the sector for learners with special education needs. If the organised profession cannot agree the Minister may take nominations from trade unions separately on the said criteria.

Clauses 7, 8, 9, 10
The clauses provide for the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the council, term of office of members (which is four years, except for CEO), termination of office, and filling of vacancies, respectively.

An important part of clause 7(1) is that it provides for transparency in that the council nominates three persons for consideration by the Minister for appointment as chairperson. Even someone who is not a member of the council may be nominated for consideration by the Minister as chairperson, but it remains the Minister's discretion to appoint the chairperson.

Clauses 11 to 14
These clauses provide for statutory committees that the council is required to have, namely, the executive committee, the registration committee, the professional development committee, and the disciplinary committee. The executive committee is limited only to members of the council. Other committees may include outsiders, for example, where specific skills are required. The Bill provides that the disciplinary committee shall have panels to investigate issues and make recommendations to the disciplinary committee which shall determine the appropriate sanction.

Clause 15
The clause enables the council to set up other committees to help in the performance of its functions and even to co-opt other persons to attend committee meetings on the basis of their expertise.

Clause 16
The clause provides for meetings and the procedure for conducting such meetings. It is left to the council to determine when to hold meetings provided that at least two meetings are held during each calendar year at the council's head office.

Clause 17
The clause provides for the appointment and functions of the chief executive officer and staff of the council.

Clause 18 and 19
Clause 18 provides for the remuneration and allowances of members of the council and committees, which must be kept within the budget mentioned in clause 19.

Clause 19 provides for the funds of the council and the budget that must be submitted to the Minister for approval of estimated income and expenditure for the following year.

Clause 20
The council has to submit to the Minister an annual report on the performance of its functions during the preceding year within three months of the end of each financial year. Such report has to be tabled in Parliament by the Minister as soon as it is reasonably possible.

Clause 21, 22, 23, 24
Clause 21 provides for compulsory registration of every educator in order to be lawfully appointed as an educator.

Clause 22 provides for application for registration and guidelines on how it should be handled by the council.

Clause 23 provides for removal of the name of an educator from the register. Instances where such would happen are: where qualification of an educator is withdrawn or cancelled by the higher education institution which issued it; registration was as a result of error, or by means of fraud; where an educator was found guilty of a breach of code of professional ethics; at request of an educator; an educator fails to pay fees prescribed by council within specified period; or at death of educator.

Clause 24 provides for a registration certificate to be sent to the educator upon registration.

Clause 25
The clause provides for transitional arrangements relating to councils existence up to date of application of this Bill.

Clause 26
The clause obliges all higher institutions and employers of educators to furnish council with information necessary to fulfil its duties.

Clause 27
The clause makes it an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to six months if anyone is convicted for breach of provisions of clause 14(5) relating to failure without sufficient reason to obey summonses to give evidence before a disciplinary committee.

The South African Council for Educators Bill will repeal Chapter 6 of the Employment of Educators Act, 1998.

Ms Ntlabathi (ANC) said her concern is that alcoholics in the education profession may be expelled without offering them rehabilitation.

A.) The Department said various sanctions are looked at and one of them might be temporary suspension to allow such a person rehabilitation.

A member wanted to know what the scope of application of the proposed Act is.

A.) The Act would be applicable to all people employed as educators up to the level of deputy director-general. The director-general is recognised a civil servant.

Mr Qokweni (UDM) asked how is the Act going to be made an instrument of monitoring the activities of educators by the community and even learners.

A.) The code of professional ethics has three sections which include relations with the community.

The meeting was adjourned.


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