Hansard: NCOP: Unrevised hansard
House: National Council of Provinces
Date of Meeting: 03 Nov 2000
No summary available.
FRIDAY, 3 NOVEMBER 2000
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES
The Council met at 09:30.
The Chairperson took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS - see col 000.
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M L Mushwana): Order! I have been advised that there is an agreement between the parties that there will be no motions, and I will immediately proceed by calling on the Secretary to read the first Order of the Day.
ADULT BASIC EDUCATION AND TRAINING BILL
(Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M L Mushwana): Order! I take this opportunity to welcome the hon the Minister of Education to the House and call upon him to address the House.
The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Chairperson, hon members of the House, when I last spoke before this honourable House I said I would not introduce legislation which is not implementable. I am now introducing two Bills together - the Adult Education and Training Bill and the Education Laws Amendment Bill.
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M L Mushwana): Order! Are you debating the two of them together?
The MINISTER: Yes, Chairperson.
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M L Mushwana): Order! If that is the case, I will ask the Secretary to read both Orders so that you can address the House on them together.
ADULT BASIC EDUCATION AND TRAINING BILL
EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL
(Consideration of Bills and of Reports thereon)
The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Chairperson, thank you for facilitating this because I understand it was the wish of the Whips and arrangements committee. These two Bills are necessary. They are not housekeeping Bills, they are important policy Bills that enable us to get to where we want to go. Therefore, these Bills are both necessary and implementable.
The first Bill refers to the fact that adults pursuing studies, as well as children and youths, in schools and colleges, will be positively affected by the provisions of these pieces of legislation, if they are approved by this House. I hope that the members' principals in the provincial legislatures have mandated them to support the Bills in the interests of these learners. They are, of course, part of the general and further education bands, apart from the normal general education bands which we have looked at before.
In the first instance I had to introduce the Adult Basic Education and Training Bill, the Abet Bill. There is a saying that a country that does not invest in its children has no future. Likewise, a nation that does not invest in its adults faces the continuing spectre of poverty, stagnation and hopelessness that haunts us in South Africa. We saw this before 1994 when the previous regime and the private sector made little or no investment in the education of the adult population.
Therefore, let me elaborate on the challenges facing a section of our 24 million adult compatriots. First of all, 3,2 million adults have never entered a learning institution because there was no compulsory education for Africans until the democratic Government, in 1994, introduced a Bill that became part of the law in 1996. So we are only talking about four years of compulsory education for all our population. They are effectively illiterate, with the written words of our Constitution, legislation and policy papers remaining mere worthless symbols with little meaning to them.
Secondly, 9,4 million adults have not completed the equivalent of nine years of school, which renders them functionally illiterate, mostly unemployed and leading survivalist and undignified lives on the very margins of our society. They are virtually invisible to those who chatter at dinner times and those who sit in our shebeens. Many have ended up in prison. More than 60% of those who ended up in prison - I visited them on the Abet programme at Pollsmoor - are between 19 and 24. Even in these circumstances, as I found, prisoners are anxious to learn in order to get out of their dire situations. A little later I will say how we, as public representatives, can do something to help these people.
Thirdly, the participation rate at our 2 226 Adult Basic Education and Training centres stands at less than 300 000, at 294 000, with only one in three adult learners getting basic education and training. We now have a consolidated list of the Adult Basic Education and Training centres, which I will place in the library because we published it only recently. This suggests that we are not as clever, innovative or sharp as we could be in social mobilisation and recruitment, because without social mobilisation we cannot do anything here.
Given the new realities of the global economy, the low skills profile of our people is jeopardising our economic prospects and is stifling the new energies we need to reconstruct and develop our country, and to provide for the basic needs of our people. There are also dramatic implications for the employability of many of our citizens, especially if one factors in the technological illiteracy among even those who are otherwise quite literate. Of course, I am not suggesting that Government, acting on its own, can create demand for skills and jobs, although through its economic development and empowerment initiatives it will provide the learning and earning connection for the development of key skills and the creation of jobs.
It is only when it acts together with all its social partners, and I say this very seriously, that Government can successfully meet the skills development and employment creation challenge. So, I am confident that the recently appointed national board for adult basic education and training and similar provincial advisory bodies will enable Government to work successfully alongside its social partners to identify priorities and relevant programmes.
The Bill also recognises that collaboration on human resource development between the Ministries of Education and Labour, in particular the Skills Development Act of the Ministry of Labour, is essential for comprehensive human resource development, with adult basic education and training featuring strongly. In the next few days our two departments and the Ministries will be making a very important announcement on joint collaboration in this area.
Faced with this situation, the Department of Education in 1998 embarked on a five-year plan to develop structures, systems and the capacity of the public adult learning centres to respond to the challenges of adult illiteracy and upscale provision in these centres to a mass level of 2,5 million by 2001. I think that is a very optimistic approach, but we need a high degree of optimism here, while our mind may tell us that it may not be possible always to meet this target everywhere in South Africa.
The first objective has seen us, therefore, with the provincial departments of education, achieve our objectives of relatively small increases in learner enrolments, the development of the curriculum framework and unit standards within the National Qualifications Framework, which is a particularly South African progressive measure, that will provide linkages to further education and training and on-the-job training, the introduction of learner support materials, enhancing practitioner standards, and establishing providers and transforming them into a network of adult learning centres. On the second objective we are already gathering momentum.
I have identified, as the House knows, the absolute need to break the back of illiteracy, as a priority. We all know what illiteracy does. It disempowers people, not for the global revolution, but for technology. It diminishes them as human beings - we know that - and now we must seek to accelerate the work of fighting illiteracy through collaboration with all spheres of our society.
Let me make a special appeal to public representatives. For this reason, I have recently established the SA National Literacy Initiative with its board of advisers and agency - a nonbureaucratic, very creative body with, we hope, the expedience to do things rapidly on the ground. The National Literacy Initiative, which has representatives of all political parties, must succeed, and, towards this end, we call upon our people and organisations to offer national community service, particularly those who have the capacity, not the young people only, for the next five years, as we mobilise and jointly provide education and training to our target of 3,5 million adults.
I said I would make an appeal to hon members. Next year is the Year of the Reader, again an initiative with NGOs, and we hope to make it a very exciting thing, to bring the book to our people. I went to Pollsmoor Prison, and saw that there are no books there. So I have given them 200 or 300 of my own, for they have no library resources.
I ask hon members to mobilise public representatives to donate books at 120 Plein Street - we are prepared to have thousands of books there to send to prisons. Of course, as we know, in 60% of South African schools there are no libraries at all. So I make this appeal to hon members, not for their rubbish books, not for their textbooks, but for books that would be relevant to our people.
The Adult Basic Education and Training Bill therefore provides the legislative framework to advance our constitutional obligations set out in section 29(1)(a) of the Constitution - recognising every person's right to adult basic education and training.
The Bill provides for the establishment of public learning centres and for the registration of private adult learning centres. It focuses on the quality of education and governance at these centres.
It does many other things. There is a five-year programme. It also obliges a head of department of a province to provide facilities for public adult learning centres to perform their functions. We should not have the authority there. If there are no facilities available, then the governing body of a public school or a further education and training institution must allow the reasonable use of the facilities by the adult centres.
We are getting rid of this idea that the principal and the governing body own the school. Schools are national assets, and the provincial head can, in fact, intervene there. Over 29 000 public schools and many technical colleges already provide ready facilities. They make use of these functions. There must a governing body for the adult basic education and training centres, and they can co-opt people without voting rights.
The Bill therefore provides for adult basic education and training to be funded in terms of norms and standards to be determined by the Minister of Education, in terms of the National Education Policy Act, from funds appropriated for this purpose by the provincial legislatures. Many of the provinces have made a modest start in that.
I call upon the NCOP to send a clear message to our country, that the era of cheap and unskilled labour, of a lifetime of low-skill occupations, of poor-quality curricula and qualifications by public and private providers, will be replaced by lifelong learning of high-performance, high-quality, relevant curricula and qualifications which will offer new pathways to higher education, particularly taking into account previous experience. For the first time in our country, we can draw on that quality of experience that many of our people have without any formal qualifications.
Quickly now I turn to the Education Laws Amendment Bill. We seek to amend three pieces of legislation: the South African Qualifications Authority Act, the South African Schools Act and the Employment of Educators Act.
The amendments to the South African Qualifications Act are technical, and recognise a change in the organisation of teachers since the inception of the Act and that there are now three teacher organisations rather than two, so that they are all represented on the board.
The changes to other laws are central to the governance and management of public schools. The South African Schools Act is significantly strengthened by the power of the Minister to make regulations regarding school safety measures, and any other aspects in pursuit of the primary objectives of the Act.
I have already declared schools and higher education institutions to be gun-free institutions. Now we must, in fact, ensure that communities are involved in providing safety and security. The schools must become centres of community life, and the safety of the schools is enormously important. Then, of course, the heart of this is changes to employment legislation to be able to deal more effectively with incapacity among teachers.
The President awarded prizes last Thursday as part of the National Teacher Awards, in a variety of categories. One of them was for lifetime service. I am sorry that all hon members could not be there. It was a very moving experience to have in the five categories teachers from all over South Africa, predominantly women, I should say, who gave their own two-minute statement about what it means to be a teacher, and why they want to be teachers.
The recognition came with money awards to the schools, not the teachers - one of the most moving experiences that I have had as the Minister of Education. We want to build on that to ensure that good teachers are recognised and that those who need assistance, particularly those who fail in their tasks, are given proper assistance because of their incapacity. I draw hon members' attention to incapacity in the Bill.
More important, also, is the fact that many teachers do not perform because of inadequate initial training and subsequent development, or simply a refusal to make the effort to be retrained. A procedure is laid down for poor performance by teachers.
Again I think it is a kind of first that we are involved in here. It is very important that we should do this gradually with the agreement, I must say, of the teachers' unions. Unless we have the agreement of teachers' unions, we will, in fact, not be able to enforce it as effectively as we should. On the other hand, these are professional matters, and Parliament, ultimately, must have the last word on that.
Finally, where the poor performance is the result of ill health or inadequate training, we are bound to support the developmental approach. The important thing is not to say, ``Kick them out!'' because there are human failures arising from our past. We must have a developmental approach.
Of course, we end by saying that where teachers seriously undermine the foundations of our education system, then the law must be strict and straightforward. Undermining the educational system includes theft, bribery and fraud relating to examinations. I must say that the examinations are about to end, and we have had one case of maladministration and corruption in the past year. That is a remarkable thing. When we talk about the size of the country and the millions of people involved in the process, it is a remarkable victory for good sense, ethics and morality.
Regarding sexual assaults on learners, I beg to say that, according to the Medical Research Council, 33% of the abuse of children under the age of 15 is against girls and committed by teachers. It is one of the most regrettable things to happen in our country - recently the Medical Research Council said that. Of course, the Act now makes it a serious form of misconduct.
Others are assault in general, ordinary sexual relations with learners - as if one can have ordinary sexual relations with learners when one is in loco parentis; and one should not abuse that authority - possession of intoxicating or - I like this - stupefying substances. These will result in dismissal. They are serious offences and there must be dismissal. Of course, there will be a hearing where the information is put forward, but the hearing will be short, deliberate, fair and constitutional - and, for these offences, there must be dismissal.
A stringent approach has to be adopted to restore the moral order of our education system, and in this way we might even begin to restore the moral order for all the people of our country. A list of other offences is included in that, including unfair discrimination and financial mismanagement.
The fact is that we now also allow for delegation of these powers. Up to now the provincial head of the department has been taking disciplinary measures, and members know how difficult it is to do that. We now allow for the delegation of powers to the principal at a lower level of the system. The principal is empowered to counsel, to educate and then to issue verbal or written warnings. Only when the nature of the offence is sufficiently dangerous, the hearing must be held within 10 days, because, in fact, the community's sense of rightness is violated if a serious offence takes place and no hearing is held for six, nine or up to 15 months, as was the case in the past.
We cannot allow undisciplined educators to linger in our system. They are protected by weak procedures and ineffective administrations. We appeal to all our communities to take action, but we must therefore make sure that our procedures are open, fair and without victimisation.
Can I end by saying that a class without a teacher is a terrible thing, but a class with a morally corrupt teacher is much worse. I recently received a badge which read: ``If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.'' Members can see it in my room. I have no dispute with this sentiment, but I would add a rider: that the social costs of re-education and rehabilitation of the miseducated are greater still. The moral regeneration of our society starts, really, not in Parliament, but in our classrooms, and teachers must be the leaders in this campaign by setting our best example. The Bill and the earlier Bill are both positive steps towards this, and I call upon this House's support. [Applause.]
Mr D M KGWARE: Chairperson, hon Minister, special delegates, colleagues, let me take this opportunity to say thank you to the committee for considering the Bills, and also playing a very profitable role in finalising our work for this year. Maybe before I say anything else I should indicate to the House that the committee met on 10 October at 2 o'clock and we looked at the Education Laws Amendment Bill. As members of the committee, we agreed to the Bill without amendment. We then looked at the Adult Basic Education and Training Bill, which we also considered carefully. In that one we agreed to accept the Bill with an amendment, and it was a very small amendment that we made. We were then very satisfied that we had played our role, and I want to thank everybody who contributed to that effect.
Allow me, just for a few minutes, to echo the words of the Minister. According to our Constitution, education at all levels, with the exception of tertiary education, is a functional area of concurrent national and provincial legislative competence. As such, provinces have an important role to play in ensuring that the right to primary and secondary education, as well as adult basic education, is enjoyed by all people living within the geographical boundaries of our provinces. Whereas it is the responsibility of the national Government to make money and resources available and to ensure uniform educational norms and standards across provincial boundaries, it is the responsibility of provinces to ensure that the money and resources are equitably applied in a way that adheres to the national norms and standards.
The provision of adult basic education in particular is central to the economic and social development of our provinces. This is because of the direct link between the levels of unemployment and poverty in the provinces and the level of education of our people living in those provinces. Since adult basic education is so important to our continued development both as individuals living in the provinces and as a nation, it is essential that the provinces and national Government work together to extend the provision of adult basic education and training to all those who need it, and this has just been affirmed by the Minister.
In fact our Constitution enjoins us to work together by fostering friendly relations and assisting and supporting one another and to consult one another on matters of common interest, especially in critical areas such as education. The passage of the Education Laws Amendment Bill and the Adult Basic Education and Training Bill through Parliament is a practical demonstration of the implementation of the principles of working together on a matter of common interest. As a different level of government we are able to co-operate in a manner which enables us to pass a final product which carries the blessing of the overwhelming majority of our provinces.
Through the NCOP processes provinces have been able to make input in the Education Laws Amendment Bill and the Adult Basic Education and Training Bill which addresses some of the difficulties they had with this Bill.
The national Government has already taken far-reaching policy and legislative measures which lay the foundation for addressing adult education, illiteracy and training. These include the establishment of a national qualifications framework and the SA Qualifications Authority as well as the enactment of the Skills Development Act and the Employment Equity Act.
It is the responsibility of the provinces to ensure that we build on this foundation and discharge the constitutional obligation of ensuring that the right to education no longer remains in the domain of the abstract, but becomes a concrete reality. With these few words I would like to end off here and wish all members a merry Christmas. [Applause.]
Mev J WITBOOI: Mnr die Voorsitter, agb Minister en agb lede van die Huis, ongeletterdheid kan beskou word as 'n erge vorm van gestremdheid. Dit vernietig nie alleen 'n mens se menswaardigheid nie, dit ontneem jou ook die genot van alledaagse lewensgenietinge.
'n Ongeletterde ouer sal nooit die pragtige woorde in 'n verjaardagkaartjie kan lees nie. So 'n ouer sal ook nooit self die uitdrukking van verlange in 'n brief van 'n kind wat ver van die huis af is, kan lees nie. 'n Huisvrou wat nie kan lees of skryf nie, sal dit moeilik vind om inkopies te doen, want behalwe dat sy nie pryse sal kan vergelyk nie, sal sy nooit met sekerheid kan weet wat haar kruideniersware regtig gekos het nie. Vir menige jong man sal die begeerte om 'n rybewys te bekom net 'n ydele droom bly, en eenvoudige dinge soos om 'n telefoon te gebruik kan in 'n nagmerrie ontaard vir diegene wat nooit skoolopleiding gehad het nie.
Hierdie tipe gestremdheid waaraan miljoene Suid-Afrikaners ly, veroorsaak ook ander maatskaplike probleme. Vrees vir die onbekende raak later vrees vir die alledaagse in die gemoedere van die ongeletterdes, veral in die tegnologiese eeu waarin ons vandag leef. Die onvermoë, as gevolg van hierdie tipe gestremdheid, om uitdagings aan te pak laat hulle soms heeltemal wegraak langs die lewenspad. Hierdie wetsontwerp is 'n meganisme wat geskep word waardeur hulle 'n kans op basiese onderwys kry. Dit sal die erns van elke provinsie moet wees om gestalte te gee aan die wetsontwerp.
Dit gaan hier oor die mees basiese behoeftes van elke mens om te lees, te skryf en te reken. Sonder hierdie drie lewensbelangrike vaardighede is elke mens net 'n halwe wese. Suid-Afrika as 'n geheel kan net baat as ons ons geletterdheidspeil verhoog, en daarmee saam ons mense se moraal verbeter.
Die Nuwe NP steun die wetsontwerp oor basiese onderwys en opleiding vir volwassenes, en daarmee saam ook die wysigingswetsontwerp met betrekking tot die onderwyswette. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans speech follows.)
[Mrs J WITBOOI: Mr Chairperson, hon Minister and hon members of the House, illiteracy can be viewed as an extreme form of disability. Not only does it destroy one's human dignity, but it also deprives one of the pleasure of everyday enjoyment.
An illiterate parent will never be able to read the beautiful words in a birthday card. Neither will such a parent ever be able to read the expression of longing in a letter from a child far from home. A housewife who cannot read or write will find it very difficult to do shopping because, apart from the fact that she cannot compare prices, she will never be able to know with certainty what her groceries really cost. To many a young man the desire to have a driver's licence will remain an idle dream, and simple things such as using a telephone can become a nightmare for those who have never had school education.
This type of disability, from which millions of South Africans suffer, also creates other social problems. Fear of the unknown later becomes fear of the everyday in the minds of the illiterate, especially in the technological era in which we live today. The inability, because of this type of disability, to address challenges sometimes causes them to be left completely stranded along the road of life. This Bill is a mechanism which is being created to give these people the chance to acquire a basic education. Each province will have to make a serious effort to give effect to this Bill.
This relates to the most basic needs of every person to read, to write and to calculate. Without these three essential skills one is only half a person. South Africa as a whole can only benefit if we increase our literacy level, and at the same time improve the morality of our people.
The New NP supports the Bill on basic education and training for adults, and with it the amending Bill as regards the education laws. [Applause.]]
Mnr A J WILLIAMS (Wes-Kaap): Mnr die Voorsitter, agb Minister, kollegas, dit is vir my aangenaam om bekend te maak dat die provinsie Wes-Kaap beide hierdie twee wette, soos gewysig, steun. Die Wes-Kaapse regering bly verbind tot doeltreffende onderrig, insluitende volwasseneonderrig. Dit geld vir al die inwoners van hierdie provinsie.
Ons is diep bewus dat ongeletterdheid een van die grootste vyande van ons demokrasie is, en daarom is dit een van die prioriteite van premier Gerald Morkel en die Wes-Kaapse regering om met die middele tot hulle beskikking alles in die stryd te werp om seker te maak dat hierdie vyand vernietig word. Wat volwasseneonderrig betref, is daar 'n geneigdheid by sommige individue om die Wes-Kaap in die beskuldigdebank te plaas met beskuldigings dat ons nie voorkeur sal gee aan volwasseneonderrig nie.
Niks is verder van die waarheid verwyder as hierdie beskuldigings nie. Diegene wat sulke beskuldigings maak, gaan beslis nie goed om met die waarheid nie. Om die waarheid te sê, volgens inligting tot my beskikking is die Wes-Kaapse onderwysdepartement se program vir volwasseneonderrig een van die mees funksionele in die land.
Die volgende projekte is alreeds aan die gang in die provinsie: daar is tans 133 sentrums vir volwassene-onderrig. 'n Begroting van R15 miljoen word tans gebruik vir volwasseneonderrig. In die Wes-Kaap is daar tans 26 000 volwasse leerders wat hulle geregistreer het, en dan het die Wes-Kaapse onderwysdepartement 'n bestuurstruktuur bestaande uit agt beplanners en nege heeltydse kurrikulumadviseurs in beheer van volwasseneonderwys in die Wes-Kaap.
Volgens inligting wat ek ontvang het, het 8 000 leerders hulle vanjaar vir matriekvakke ingeskryf in die Wes-Kaap, en vanjaar sal 731 van die Wes-Kaap se volwasse leerders vir die eerste keer die openbare Abet vlak 4-eksamen aflê. Daar word vir my gesê dat daar net twee provinsies in die land is wat tans hierdie program volg, waarvan die Wes-Kaap een is.
As ons kyk na waarmee die Wes-Kaapse onderwysdepartement onder die uiters bekwame leiding van mnr Brian O'Connel, die onderwyshoof, reeds besig is, dan is dit mos geen verrassing nie dat, deur die bekwame amptenare en die gedissiplineerde opvoeders van hierdie provinsie, volwasseneonderrig ook in hierdie provinsie net so 'n sukses kan word soos wat gewone onderrig is.
Dit is dan mos ook geen wonder nie dat premier Gerald Morkel, en sy kabinet, weer eens aangewys is as die administrateurs wat hulle provinsie die beste bestuur. [Applous.] Dit is ook geen verrassing nie dat hulle nie net die provinsie die doeltreffendste en die beste bestuur van al die provinsies in Suid-Afrika nie, maar dat hul dienslewering ook van die beste is in die land. [Applous.] Dit geld nie net op onderwysgebied nie, maar ook op die gebiede van die lewering van behuising, die lewering van gesondheidsdienste en die lewering van maatskaplike dienste.
Gepraat van maatskaplike dienste, die departement belas met maatskaplike dienste en armoedebestryding het juis daardie bekwame LUR, mnr Peter Marais, wat ons binnekort wil inhuldig as die burgemeester van die unistad Kaapstad. [Tussenwerpsels.] [Applous.] Daarom wil ek nie baie van ons kollegas se tyd in beslag neem nie, want daar buitekant lê nog 'n paar weke se werk voor wat ons moet gaan afhandel. [Tussenwerpsels.]
Ek wil verder gaan: Dit is mos geen verrassing nie dat gebeur het wat gebeur het met die aanwysing van premier Morkel en sy kabinet, en die Wes-Kaap as die beste provinsie. [Tussenwerpsels.] Binnekort sal ons dit ook kan sê van die unistad, naamlik dat die unistad ook die unistad is wat die beste regeer word in Suid-Afrika. [Tussenwerpsels.]
Volwasseneonderrig lê die Wes-Kaap baie na aan die hart. Juis omdat ons weet wat armoede beteken, en juis omdat ons weet watter rol ongeletterdheid speel, is dit ons doelwit om ons mense op te hef deur aan hulle daardie onderrig te gee wat hulle nie gehad het nie.
Die laaste paar jaar is ons onderwys byna lamgelê deur dispute, en daarom steun ons ook die wysigingswetsontwerp met betrekking tot die onderwyswette. Vir feitlik elke ontevredenheid in die onderwys is daar 'n dispuut aangeteken deur opvoeders. Hierdie aksies het veroorsaak dat kringbestuurders, areabestuurders en onderwysunies feitlik die grootste deel van hulle tyd daaraan bestee het om dispute op te los. Ek glo dat opvoeders die reg moet hê om hulle ontevredenheid te lug, maar wel op 'n verantwoordelike wyse wat die opvoeding van ons kinders nie sal bedreig nie.
Ek wil minister Asmal en sy departement gelukwens met alle pogings wat hy in die stryd werp om toe te sien dat ons kinders die onderrig ontvang wat hulle moet kry. Ek het dit al by 'n vorige geleentheid gesê, en ek wil weer vir die agb Minister sê dat hy soos 'n vars briesie is wat deur die onderwys trek vandat hy die portefeulje oorgeneem het.
Namens die Wes-Kaapse regering wil ek hom en sy departement sterkte toewens met die taak om dissipline in ons onderwys weer te hervestig, want dissipline vorm die grondslag van sukses in die onderwys.
As daar nie dissipline is nie, dan kan daar nie doeltreffende onderwys plaasvind nie, en kan daar nie sukses in die onderwys wees nie. Daarom is dit vir ons in die Wes-Kaap 'n besonder aangename voorreg om hierdie wetsontwerpe ter wille van doeltreffendheid in ons onderwys te steun. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans speech follows.)
[Mr A J WILLIAMS (Western Cape): Mr Chairman, hon Minister, colleagues, I take pleasure in announcing that the Western Cape province supports both these Bills, as amended. The Western Cape government remains committed to efficient education, including adult education. This goes for all the inhabitants of this province.
We are deeply aware that illiteracy is one of the greatest enemies of our democracy, and that is why it is one of the priorities of Premier Gerald Morkel and the Western Cape government with the means at their disposal to put everything into the effort to ensure that this enemy is annihilated. As far as adult education is concerned, some individuals tend to put the Western Cape in the dock by means of accusations that we do not accord priority to adult education.
Nothing is further from the truth. Those who level such accusations definitely do not go about well with the truth. In fact, according to information at my disposal, the Western Cape education department for adult education is one of the most functional in the country.
The following projects are already in progress in the province: There are at present 133 centres for adult education. A budget of R15 million is at present being used for adult education. In the Western Cape there are at present 26 000 adult learners who are registered, and then the Western Cape education department has a management structure composed of eight planners and nine full-time curriculum advisers who are in control of adult education in the Western Cape.
According to information that I have received, 8 000 learners registered for matric subjects in the Western Cape this year, and this year 731 of the Western Cape's adult learners will take the public Abet level 4 examination. I have been told that there are only two provinces in the country that are at present following this programme, of which the Western Cape is one.
When we look at what the Western Cape education department is already engaged in, under the extremely capable leadership of Mr Brian O'Connel, the chief of education, then it is surely no surprise that adult education in this province, by means of the competent officials and disciplined educators, can become as great a success as ordinary education.
Surely then it is also no wonder that Premier Gerald Morkel and his cabinet have once again been identified as the administrators who run their province best. [Applause.] Nor is it any surprise that they not only manage the most efficient and best of all the provinces of South Africa, but also have service delivery that is of the best in the country. [Applause.] This is relevant not only to the area of education, but also to the areas of the delivery of housing, the delivery of health services and the delivery of social services.
Talking about social services, the department entrusted with social services and poverty alleviation specifically has that competent MEC, Mr Peter Marais, whom we would soon like to inaugurate as the mayor of the Cape Town unicity. [Interjections.] [Applause.] I would therefore not like to take up too much of our colleagues' time, because out there we have a few weeks' worth of work that we have to go and complete. [Interjections.]
I would like to proceed. What happened with the selection of Premier Morkel and his cabinet, and the Western Cape province as the best province, is surely no surprise. [Interjections.] We will shortly be able to say the same about the unicity, namely that the unicity is also the unicity that is being governed the best in South Africa. [Interjections.]
Adult education is close to the heart of the Western Cape. Precisely because we know what poverty means, and precisely because we know what role is played by illiteracy, it is our objective to uplift people by providing them with the education that they have not had.
The past few years our education has almost been paralysed by disputes, and that is also why we support the amending Bill relating to education legislation. For virtually each dissatisfaction in education a dispute was declared by educators. These actions caused circuit managers, area managers and teacher unions to spend virtually the majority of their time resolving disputes. I believe that educators have the right to air their grievances, but in fact in a responsible manner, one that would not pose a threat to the education of our children.
I want to congratulate Minister Asmal and his department on every effort that he is making to ensure that our children receive the education that they should. I have said on a previous occasion, and I would like to tell the Minister again, he is like a fresh wind blowing through education since he has taken over the portfolio.
On behalf of the Western Cape government I want to wish him and his department every strength with the task of re-establishing discipline in our education, because discipline forms the basis of success in education. If there is no discipline, effective education cannot take place and there can be no success in education. That is why it is an exceptional privilege for us in the Western Cape to support these Bills for the sake of efficiency in our education. [Applause.]]
Mrs C NKUNA: Chairperson, hon Minister and hon members, I would like to confine my debate to the Adult Basic Education and Training Bill. The concept ``adult basic education'' emanated at the time when Fidel Castro took over Cuba from the Cuban leader Batista. Immediately his rule had begun, Fidel Castro made it a point to stop education in schools for a period of two full years. During that time when schooling was stopped - not education, but schools - the Cubans embarked on a campaign of the education and training of adults. After two years a 92-year old woman was able to read and write, and she was able to read the Bible. So the notion that it is never too late to learn comes a very long way.
Section 29 of the Constitution of South Africa provides that everyone has the right to basic education, including adult basic education. We are here today to give effect to this constitutional right so as to provide optimal opportunities for adult learning and literacy.
The main objects of the Bill are to ensure the viability of adult learning centres at educational institutions and to eradicate illiteracy by restoring the dignity and privacy of individuals. This Bill is going to assist especially women in the Northern Province to be able to enter into correspondence on their own, without involving a third person. When a woman in the Northern Province has to write a letter to her husband who is working in Gauteng, she has to ask a small boy to come and write the letter for her. So how does one express oneself when writing to one's beloved when one has to do it through a third person? We hope that this Bill is really going to assist us in that regard.
The second object is that of empowering millions of women who are victims of colonial oppression, affording them the opportunity to embark on economic development in a changing situation. The third object of this Bill is to ensure that there is equality between the oppressed and the oppressors.
When I talk about this, I am reminded of the situation during the era of Jan van Riebeeck, when most people were illiterate. A labourer would be sent to a farm over the mountain bearing a note. The note would not be sealed and would be carried on a wooden stick. The note would say: ``Beat him very hard''. The poor labourer would run to Piet Hoender's farm on the other side of the mountain to deliver the note and he would be beaten, after which he would run back to where he had come from. If he went somewhere else, he had a stamp on his back, and then whoever saw him would check the stamp and say, this is Piet Hoender's labourer and then he would be beaten again. So illiteracy has contributed negatively to the wellbeing of our people. [Interjections.]
There has been an intensive process of research and consultation which proved that an enormous number of adult people do not have basic education. This resulted in the initiation of policies by the Minister, including the Interim Guidelines for Adult Basic Education and Training Provisioning, 1995, in order to establish public learning centres and for the registration of private adult learning centres.
This Bill before us places an obligation on the heads of provincial departments of education to provide facilities for the use of public centres to perform their functions. If no facilities are available, the head of department, in terms of section 20(1)(k) of the South African Schools Act, Act 84 of 1996, should request the governing body of a public school to allow the reasonable use of facilities of the school by the public centre.
Kutani a ku na ku vula leswaku lavakulu a va nga dyondzi hikuva a ku na ndhawu leyi sweswi yi nga riki na xikolo. Ndhawu yin'wana ni yin'wana yi na xikolo. (Translation of Tsonga paragraph follows.)
[Now no one can say that adults cannot learn, because there is no place without a school at present. Each and every place has a school.]
In a case such as mentioned above, where the public centre uses school facilities to perform its functions, a representative of the school governing body and a member of the staff in question may be co-opted by the governing body of the public centre, but without voting rights.
The governing body holds a fiduciary duty towards the public centre and the management of a public centre must be undertaken by the centre manager, under the authority of the head of department.
In order to ensure access to adult basic education and training in the workplace by persons who have been marginalised in the past, such as women, the disabled and the disadvantaged, a joint effort by the skills development strategy and the Department of Labour will be put in place. The women in the Northern Province, though most of them illiterate, are able to vote. They are able to identify the ANC emblem and make their mark next to it. I hope most members would really like to go home. Let me not expand a lot. [Applause.]
Ms M A MOTSHEKGA (Gauteng): Chairperson, hon Minister, colleagues, members and comrades, we in the Gauteng province did consider both Bills adequately and submit our views on them. Regarding the Education Laws Amendment Bill, it was the province's view that this was a very crucial Bill which would enable Government to streamline existing Acts and give them a stronger hand in governing our education. We are of the view that with regard to the different Acts that the Bill seeks to amend, all the amendments were quite necessary and, as such, strengthen the Government's and the educational institutions' arms in regulating schools.
We highly appreciated especially the section on disciplinary actions which began to separate or clarify the difference between minor and serious offences of educators. We also appreciated the amendment of the counselling and rehabilitation of educators that is also provided for in the Bill.
We also felt that through this Bill the current uncertainty over the employment of educators in the absence of the governing council will be clarified. This we experienced in the province during the transition, where old governing bodies were being replaced by new governing bodies and there was a vacuum in the process in terms of the appointment of teachers. We are quite appreciative that this Act will avoid such situations as we had in the past.
In the event of the founding of new schools, the Act will enable principals to employ teachers in the absence of a governing council. We thought this was a very useful and innovative amendment which would, as I said, further strengthen our education system.
I want to come back to the Education Laws Amendment Bill. The amendment of the Further Education and Training Act to provide for public education centres is also necessary and timely. All the amendments are welcomed by the province. We feel that they are important in streamlining and regulating our education system, but also in empowering Government and Government institutions to undertake their duties more ably.
The province greatly appreciates the Adult Basic Education and Training Bill. We feel that this Bill enables Government in particular to fulfil its constitutional obligation to provide education for all, and in that respect we welcome and appreciate it.
The province is of the view that this Bill will lay a good foundation and prepare a framework leading to a process that will establish a thoroughly regulated Abet sector and system. As other speakers have indicated before me, the Abet sector is one of the ugly legacies inherited from our old system in which our people were denied education. This will bring about a very good process of redress to address all the problems which we inherited from the previous system.
The province regards the Bill as very useful in that it will provide a framework for the building of an Abet sector and, more importantly, will begin to locate the Abet sector within the National Qualifications Framework, so that the skills and knowledge acquired in this sector are portable and recognised, and can be used quite widely.
Currently we have a very disparate system in which everybody teaches what they want to. It is very difficult to give recognition to the qualifications that currently come from the system. In our province we thought this Bill would help in regulating the system and especially give currency and value to the qualifications obtained in this sector.
We also appreciate the amendments relating to curricula and governance, and, more importantly, the fact that this Bill starts the process of a whole new approach to the Abet sector.
We think the Bill will go a long way towards improving the governance of education and, as I have said before, towards fulfilling the obligation to provide education for all. Now even adults will have that opportunity.
Before I sit down, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the chairperson of the education committee, Mr Kgware, for enabling the provinces to participate in the discussion of these Bills. However, looking at the whole process, the length of time given to the provinces to hold their own public hearings before having to make their submissions was quite short. We have indicated this in writing, but I feel I should nevertheless mention that we needed more time, especially on the Abet Bill, which, in our view, was crucial. We needed more time to have more participation in the provinces. We would appeal, as provinces, for more time to be set aside for that process in future.
We would also like to express our appreciation to Adv Boshoff of the national department, who came to assist the province. He went through the Bills with us and quite ably clarified all the questions we put to him.
Most of all, I think the hon the Minister deserves our appreciation and gratitude for tabling both these Bills. We think they were very necessary and timely and that they will go a long way in strengthening our education system. In my view our education system is safely on track, no matter what lobbying or electioneering is going on. I think under the able stewardship of the hon the Minister, and with the types of education Bills that are being tabled, our education is on a safe footing. [Applause.]
Mr S L GABELA (KwaZulu-Natal): Chairperson, hon Minister, hon members and comrades present, it is a great privilege for me to begin by saying that KwaZulu-Natal supports both these Bills.
It is estimated that South Africa has nearly 24 million adults between the ages of 16 and 65, of whom 3,3 million have not had any schooling and 9,4 million have not completed Grade 9. Therefore 12 million, which is about 51,5 % of the adult population, have not completed a general level of education. The main priority for us all has, of course, to be the 3,3 million who have not had access to schooling and basic education. I wish to state that these are in the main the rural poor, and women in particular.
Let me echo the hon Nkuna's words by saying that the adult basic education programmes are going to empower women by putting them in a position to read and write. We also need to remember that at a particular point in the development of South African society, we had sectors of our people who did not even believe that it was necessary for women to go to school, because there was no need, as long as they were in a position to write letters to the mines and read the responses.
The provinces are already involved in an approach to Abet developed at national level. It goes beyond literacy and targets learning outcomes that empower rather than lead to dead ends.
In a bid to bring about redress for past discrimination through equal access to basic education and training, this kind of legislation is one means of realising our dreams. It is a timely response to the challenge to provide optimal opportunities for adult learning and literacy.
The future of our country and its social and economic development are dependent on the combined efforts of us all. All stakeholders should appreciate the putting into effect of such a Bill. This requires us all to contribute our maximum to ensure that adult basic education is successful.
The amendments to the South African Qualifications Authority Act have been uniformly welcomed and supported. The importance of ensuring the safety of educators and learners at schools cannot be overemphasised. Our schools have now turned into centres of criminal activity. This has to come to an end as a matter of urgency.
Had time allowed, I would have shared with hon members a story told to me by my three-year-old daughter, Thulisile, about how she helped effect the arrest of somebody who tried to steal her teacher's purse and some school T-shirts that were on sale.
It was possible only because of something children in Grade R call ``umgo out''. It was only because she was allowed that ``umgo out'' that she saw a person she suspected was not part of the school management but was too old to be a learner at that school. She shouted, and later, when the police arrived, she told them that she was a comrade and that she understood that offenders had to be arrested.
New disciplinary measures for educators who fail to meet expected standards of professional behaviour need to be accompanied by regulations which serve as further strict control measures. We need to indicate that, while we note that the measures may be new, these standards apply to all civil servants. Educators have had so much freedom that these measures might seem too stringent for them, but they are within the acceptable norms of discipline.
There are unacceptable forms of behaviour at schools that need to be brought to an end, such as the abuse of alcohol and drugs, assaults or other forms of victimisation because of party-political or union affiliation, engaging in business activities during school hours, sexual assaults on learners and educators, sexual relationships between learners and teachers, and bribery related to examinations, which also includes theft and fraud.
Mr N M RAJU: Mr Chairman, hon Minister Prof Asmal, hon special delegates and hon colleagues, I would like to recall an experience that I had during a short spell of teaching in Zambia some 30 years ago, when I used to do some adult teaching on a voluntary basis at the local mine school. I still recall vividly an old mineworker by the name of Mr Phiri who was taught the alphabet and how to write his name. It was the most wonderful moment when he discovered that he could write his name. His eyes filled with tears of joy and wonderment that he was able to do that. In fact, that moment of discovery is no different from the moment of discovery that people such as Jan Van Riebeeck, Columbus, Marco Polo, or even Neil Armstrong experienced.
One of the most pernicious pieces of legislation on the Statute Book during the Verwoerdian era was the Bantu Education Act of 1953, which not only set about to demean the value of education for the majority of South African children, but also sought to totally ignore adult literacy. Can anything be more criminal than denying fellow South Africans access to basic education and literacy? The Adult Basic Education and Training Bill seeks to bring the curtain down on that kind of denial and denigration.
The hon the Minister, in his usual eloquent manner, has already alluded to the poverty, stagnation and hopelessness that such denial spawned. The right to basic education for all - men, women and children is - enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act, Act 108 of 1996, in terms of section 29(1)(a).
The DP welcomes the proposals for a new Adult Basic Education and Training system, namely to provide for the establishment, governance and funding of public adult learning centres; to provide for registration of private adult learning centres; and the proposal for a new Adult Basic Education and Training qualification within the National Qualifications Framework, a new curriculum, a new quality assurance framework and mechanism, and the monitoring and evaluation of the adult education and training system.
The great French philosopher Voltaire said, and I quote: ``To know what is right and fear to do it is cowardice.'' The provision of optimal opportunity for adult learning and literacy, especially for those marginalised in the past, the disabled and disadvantaged, is most welcome. It is absolutely right and proper to ensure that no one among our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters who was denied access to learning and literacy before, is denied it any more. The opportunities strengthen the sinews of democracy and the cause of fundamental human rights is enhanced. The DP wholeheartedly supports this Bill.
The Education Laws Amendment Bill seeks to amend the South African Qualifications Authority Act of 1995, the South African Schools Act of 1996, the Employment of Educators Act of 1998 and the Further Education and Training Act of 1998. The effect of these amendments will be, firstly, to increase representation of trade union members in the South African Qualification Authority Act of 1995 from two to three members, and the Minister has already mentioned how important it is to work closely with the trade union sector; secondly, to make provision for public schools on private property by enabling the MEC to expropriate property in order to expedite such provisions; thirdly, to make room for interim governance of a new public school until a properly constituted school governing body is formed, and, fourthly, to empower the head of department to employ educators in cases in which a student governing body is not yet in place.
The DP welcomes these measures, especially the counselling and rehabilitation programmes for the educator. Among the disciplinary codes envisaged, an employer may suspend an educator immediately without any hearing for a period of seven days with full pay. I welcome the Minister's assurance that the long delays that have characterised previous hearings will not be part of the scenario any more. A tribunal is no longer necessary to conduct a disciplinary hearing.
The DP also supports the proposed amendment to the Further Education and Training Act so as to allow public further education and training institutions to promote public adult learning centres. I take great pleasure, on behalf of the DP, in supporting the Bill. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr K PANDAY (KwaZulu-Natal): Mr Chairman, greetings to your good self, the hon the Minister and all hon members. We must place on record the excellent role of the chairman, Mr Kgware, and the manner in which he conducted the various briefings on the two Bills that are being debated here today. As my colleague Mr Gabela has stated, our province of KwaZulu-Natal supports the Adult Basic Education and Training Bill. Some other points that I wish to make here today have already been made, hence I will not repeat those.
However, there have been two concerns which I will refer to as I proceed. One of the concerns was in clause 8(1) of the Abet Bill. Although Adv Boshoff gave us an explanation, we were not fully satisfied. Reference to section 21(1)(d) of the South African Schools Act of 1996 is not applicable to this clause. The motivation was that section 21(1)(d) of the South African Schools Act of 1996 reads: ``to pay for services to the school.'' Members of the education portfolio committee of my province contend that this subsection does not contemplate a public centre.
Clause 8(1) of this Bill reads as follows, and I quote: ``Every public centre must establish a governing body, except a public centre contemplated in section 21((1)(d) of the South African Schools Act, 1996.'' The committee therefore felt that there was no link between these two provisions. We do hope that the hon the Minister will be able to assist us in clearing up the confusion. Does the error lie with us, or is it otherwise?
KwaZulu-Natal is very unhappy with clause 34(b) of chapter 6. I am not too certain whether the chairperson alluded to this particular clause in his speech a little earlier on. However, in terms of the clause an annual report on the quality of basic education and training must be made to the Minister by the head of the department in respect of the relevant province. Protocol is not being followed. Regarding the Ministers of education of the respective provinces or MECs, as they are called, their role is diminished and, to a large extent, bypassed. The correct procedure should have been communication between the national Minister of Education and the MECs, and no one should be allowed to report to the hon the national Minister of Education other than the MEC of the respective province.
The KwaZulu-Natal province has great pleasure in supporting also the Education Laws Amendment Bill as tabled. Our members have had no problems with the suggested amendment of the increase of trade union representatives from two to three. Unions play an important role in ensuring that employees' interests are fully taken care of, hence the increase from two to three is welcome.
Section 6 of the Employment of Educators Act of 1998 is an obvious inclusion. During the interim period between the new public schools commencement and the inauguration of a governing body, much chaos will reign if there is no body that will ensure the smooth running of the school. This Act allows for the head of department to take charge. The amendment empowers the head of department to employ educators where there is no governing body or a council constituted in terms of the relevant Acts.
Without educators, no learning will take place, and without learning, schools become irrelevant or redundant. KwaZulu-Natal supports the spirit of the new section 17 of the Employment of Educators Act of 1998.
The intended amendment proposes the dismissal of educators for serious misconduct. If an educator is found guilty of, amongst other offences, seriously assaulting, with the intention of causing grievous bodily harm, a learner or a student, he or she must be removed from his or her office. Corporal punishment is a thing of the past. It is now history. This form of punishment must never be used again.
What we have to do is to find other ways and means of punishing insolent and badly behaved children. Some of the suggestions made, especially by the hon the Minister of Education, must form the basis upon which we can build a code of conduct, which our children will have to respect and follow. [Applause.]
Mr P D N MALOYI: Where is Mr Ackermann? [Interjections.] Oh!
Chairperson, Minister of Education, Comrade Kader Asmal, special delegates present here today, colleagues, this Adult Basic Education and Training Bill is significant for most of us who grew up during the period when we fought against gutter education or were deprived of the opportunity of going to school because of socioeconomic circumstances.
Some of us chose the option of boycotting the unequal education system, geared to churning out obedient blacks who would not question the draconian laws operating at that time. Many others were unable to finish school because their parents could not afford to send them to school, or there were no schools within walking distance.
For all of these people and many others, this new Bill affords them a second chance to put the knowledge that they acquired while attending the university of wisdom or the university of life into a more structured environment governed by trained professionals, which would translate, at the end of the training period, into a certificate.
More significantly, this Bill, while giving effect to the provisions of section 29(1)(a) of our Constitution, paves the way for redressing the educational inequities of the past. It will give back dignity to the forgotten people, our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, who sacrificed their education to ensure that others would get ahead and prosper. I am sure that today this room is filled with delegates whose parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters are semiliterate, with few or no marketable skills.
It is, of course, our responsibility - that of all of us - to ensure that the provisions of this Bill are implemented in all nine provinces. Indeed, we must be vigilant in ensuring that the obligation that this Bill places on the heads of provincial departments of Education, to provide facilities for use as public centres, is met without any exception.
This Bill also calls for all of us to be vigilant in making sure that our governing bodies in schools allow reasonable use of these facilities as public centres. We need to guard against selfish officials of governing bodies who jealously guard their turf.
The public centres brought into being by this Bill will provide an alternative for those who cannot afford the fees of private institutions offering all kinds of training programmes. The Bill places a financial obligation on the national Government, but more especially on provincial governments, to take up the challenge of educating our adult population, with the emphasis on quality and adherence to agreed norms and standards.
This Bill should be regarded as a very important milestone and will change the face of adult education in our country. The North West, without any reservations, supports the Bill.
We also welcome the Education Laws Amendment Bill, since it will further ensure that we continue to strive for equity, redress and functionality in our schools, in a democratic environment.
The amendment dealing with further provision for public schools on private property is of particular relevance to our province, which encounters serious problems relating to access to these schools.
This Bill is also welcomed for the particular focus it places on capacity, as well as disciplinary procedures. We need more control in our schools to ensure a safe haven of learning for our children who are continually brutalised by elements of society that oppose progress towards quality education for the nation. The North West supports this Bill. [Applause.]
Mr J O TLHAGALE: Mr Chairperson, hon Minister, hon special delegates and the honourable House, the right to adult basic education is provided for in our Constitution. It is in response to intensive research, which found that large numbers of our adult population lack basic education.
The Bill before this honourable House seeks to clarify how adult basic education centres would be established, controlled and maintained, but as separate institutions from other institutions such as schools. However, in instances where no such public centres are available, the head of department would approach and request the governing body of a public school to allow reasonable use of the facilities of the school by the public centre.
The Bill is most welcome as a means of empowering our people and combating the illiteracy prevalent among our people, as the hon the Minister has already indicated. However, unless there is mutual co-operation among educators, governing bodies and learners of public schools and of adult education centres, accessing literacy will remain a dream.
Another practical problem usually encountered is that in the rural and the farming areas the learners in the adult education centres very often, as a matter of routine, leave the centres to join harvesting teams during the winter seasons. They then return to the centres after the harvest and this has a retarding effect on their academic performance. Notwithstanding this, the UCDP is in full support of the Bill.
The proposed amendments in the Education Laws Amendment Bill are intended to take education to its basics and to create an atmosphere which is conducive to teaching and learning.
The section on serious misconduct, together with the incapacity codes included in this Bill, are welcome. Educators who expose themselves to serious cases of misconduct during the performance of their professional duties will be dealt with accordingly.
On the other hand, it is gratifying to note that in respect of incapacity codes proper procedures will be followed and the accused educator will be afforded the opportunity to state his case. The UCDP supports the Bill. [Applause.]
Mr I SEGALO (Free State): Chairperson, the Free State supports the Adult Basic Education and Training Bill. It is our view that this Bill lays a firm foundation for dealing with a problem that has been worrying us in the province in relation to adult basic education, and that is the problem of the status of educators at adult centres and their conditions of service.
It is no secret that educators at adult centres do not enjoy a full-time employment status like other educators at the same post levels as prescribed in section 1 of the Employment of Educators Act of 1998. This also ties in with a need to have conditions of service at adult education centres regulated by special regulations issued by the head of education in the province. Such conditions of service shall make it possible for educators to address the specific needs of the country economically and socially, more so when they include stipulated hours of work.
South Africa needs citizens who feel that life is worthwhile, citizens who are in control of their own lives and who can make informed choices for themselves, and who value democracy. Citizens who regain their self-esteem because education has freed them from the shackles of apartheid are the people who will carry the country forward. People who carry the task of ridding the country of illiteracy and creating a citizenry of independent literate people are adult educators. Adult educators work with adults who have a wealth of prior learning and experience of life. These educators need a support system to carry them through the times of self-doubt when their learners lose heart as a result of a normal slow process of gaining self-empowerment.
Adult educators need to be masters of all the learning areas. They are people who work with two generations of South Africans upon whom transformation lies. An adult learner is also a parent. The level of parental education directly impacts upon the level of released potential of the child learner. If one wishes to improve learning amongst our youth, we have to equip their parents in order for them to take charge of their future.
The Free State also supports the amendments proposed in the Education Laws Amendment Bill. These will also help our province to deal with a problem that is rife in the Free State, and that is that property owners, especially farmers, refuse to sign agreements with the department of education. We also hope that implementation of the Act will provide a tool with which to deal with such situations. The amendment dealing with school governing bodies is also welcomed because it will do away with the problem of school governing bodies who refuse to allow the reasonable use of schools by the department for activities not related to the school or any activities which are deemed necessary by the government, under reasonable circumstances. For example, usage of schools as marking centres without payment and the utilisation of schools for election purposes, are some of these activities.
The Free State town of Bethlehem has recently witnessed an upsurge in school gangsterism, and schooling was disrupted to a certain extent. Regulations regarding safety in public schools are also very important. That is why our province believes that it is very important that guns and other weapons must under no circumstances be brought onto school premises.
In conclusion, it is the sincere hope of our province that provisions in the the two Bills will help our country deal with the situations we have already talked about and others which other speakers referred to, and many more other challenges facing our country in relation to education. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF COMMITTEES: Order! We are not going to have speaker no 13, therefore we will move on to hon Mr Suka.
Mr L SUKA: Chairperson, hon Minister, ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends. [Laughter.] It is a great pleasure for me this morning to talk about the two important Bills that we have managed to pass and will implement very soon. The reason I am so happy is because we are dealing with and trying to address the legacy that we inherited from the past. We are also trying to address the two-stream policy that was imposed on us as disadvantaged communities. These two Bills are very important, especially the Adult Basic Education and Training Bill.
Many of the learners who protested against Bantu education in the mid-70s and the 80s never had an opportunity to return to school. So they missed attaining any educational level. Naturally, many of them have reverted to either semiliteracy or complete illiteracy. These people were in the trenches fighting the system, thus adding to the already high statistics and unacceptable levels of illiteracy in our country.
I think the Eastern Cape is not immune to this, and by virtue of the society we inherited from the apartheid era, mostly black people are affected. Being committed to redressing the negative effects of apartheid in all spheres of life, the ANC-led Government cannot sit and despair. It is determined to transform our society by providing, amongst other things, life-long learning and the attainment of life-long skills.
The legislation under discussion today is only a beginning in ensuring that this dream does, in fact, come true. This legislation regulates and reorganises the provision of quality adult basic education and training in our society. I think we are advancing in this transformation, because in the past we used to have night schools, but today we are talking about public adult learning centres. So transformation will continue as long as the ANC-led Government is in power. To achieve this, heavy responsibility is placed on the MEC - member of the executive council - for education, the head of department in the province and the governing body of an adult basic education and training public centre. This ensures close monitoring, effective management and efficient skills governance.
Built into the various clauses of the Bill are empowerment mechanisms enabling the MEC, the head of department and the governing body to perform this important task and ensure that the enormous numbers of our people who do not have an education are not denied their right to basic education, because the apartheid regime made education a privilege and not a responsibility.
The responsibility to establish a public centre for an adult basic education in a province rests with the MEC. The MEC is correctly responsible for this because he or she is familiar with and aware of the needs of the province and is therefore in a better position to determine where such a centre may be located. Provision is made for a public centre occupying immovable state-owned property to have the right to use such property for educational purposes and to guard against improper use of such property. The HOD has the power to restrict that right.
At the same time, the Bill allows for flexibility and public participation in decision-making regarding public centres. For example, before restricting the right I have just referred to above, the head of department must inform the governing body of his or her intention, give the governing body a reasonable opportunity to make representations and duly consider such representations before acting.
It is one thing for an MEC to provide accommodation, but if there are not facilities for learning, adult basic education centres would be ineffective. Thus the HOD has the responsibility to provide facilities for use by public centres. In some cases, such facilities may be the same as those used by a public school. In that case, the Bill clearly sets out conditions for the head of department to enter into agreement with a school governing body concerning time schedules, sharing of resources, maintenance and improvement of facilities, access, security, and so on.
Should a need to merge two or more centres arise, this must be done in a transparent and democratic way by the MEC. Amongst the things that should be done is giving notice in the provincial gazette and sending written notices to the centres affected, and so on. Under certain circumstances it may be necessary to close a public centre. In that case, too, the MEC is required, in clause 6, to exercise transparency and accountability, and to allow the affected public to exercise its democratic right to be heard.
The assets and liabilities of such a centre must be dealt with in accordance with the law. The Bill provides for the management of centres by a centre manager appointed by the responsible head of department. Each centre is governed by a governing body composed of elected representatives elected from educators, learners and members of the staff. The elected members must co-opt members from the community. Such co-opted members have the right to deliberate. This is necessary to ensure full participation of the local community in the governance of the public centre.
If the public centre is accommodated in a public school, either the school principal or a member of the school governing body must be co-opted onto the centre's governing body. This ensures a strong link between the two governing bodies and augurs well for good working relations. However, such a co-opted member has no voting rights. The term of office of members of the governing body, the representivity of members, the disqualification and the removal of members, the filling of vacancies - all these and other related matters are determined by the MEC.
Should it be necessary to establish one governing body for two or more centres, the Bill provides for the MEC to do so. The Bill also details the function of the governing bodies. So this Bill is a milestone in our country. As such, the ANC does not have a problem in supporting the Bill.
The second Bill that we were looking at, the Education Laws Amendment Bill, focuses on a very critical aspect of education, namely the expectation of the process of discipline for educators.
Discipline is a critical aspect of professionalism. I am pleased that the Minister and his department continue to address the matter of raising the status of the teaching profession. Programmes such as the national teacher awards, the programmes on professional development, the developmental appraisal system, the review of salary structures for educators and the establishment of the SA Council for Educators are a clear indication of the Minister's commitment in this regard.
We applaud him. This Bill, therefore, must be seen as complementing this initiative. It seeks to deal with those individuals who bring the profession into dispute, who abuse children physically and sexually, who cause our children to be involved in substance abuse, who neglect their responsibilities as educators and who commit a variety of acts of misconduct. I am, therefore, very pleased to see the teaching profession, which is very dear to my heart as I am a teacher myself, slowly regaining the status it deserves in our country. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Mr Chairperson, this is a section 76 Bill, so the consent of the appropriate number of provinces is necessary. I am thus very pleased that there has been unanimous agreement in support of the Bill. I want to thank the standing committee for their co-operation. I take Gauteng's point about the longer period for consultation, but the Bill has been in the public domain for a long time now as it was issued at the end of June.
I particularly want to compliment Gauteng, because, quite clearly, they have gone through the Bill item by item, clause by clause. I am pleased that the department was able to co-operate with many of the provinces who called upon the departmental officials. Ours is a very small department. There effectively was not a national department of education until 1994, because it was not necessary to have a national department of education as there were 18 departments of education. Nogal! [At that!] Neither the House of Delegates, nor the House of Representatives, nor the Houses of the National Assembly, nor the homelands of one kind or another ever considered the necessity of looking at adults, the 6 million adults. It was not considered necessary.
I would like to say that education is not vrot [rotten], as has been said. It is not vrot and paralysed by disputes. There are enormous changes taking place. There is an enormous amount of goodwill on the ground, and these two Bills are part of that way of refashioning and renewing our educational system. Let me give you a word of warning: Passing these Bills is only one step. The implementation, as has been rightly said by Comrade Maloyi, places an enormous demand on the provinces to carry out what is a national aim and a national desire.
I thus want to thank the standing committee, this House, the National Assembly and the very hard-working officials for this. There were two or three points raised which I must reply to. I regret it very much that the representative from KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Panday, who raised points, is no longer in the House. I frankly think this is unacceptable in a democracy, because I think important issues are raised, and there must be a reply to that. I would say for the benefit, not of Mr Panday, but of other members, that the point he raised about clause 8(1) was a typographical error. It should refer to section 21(1)(dA). It was a typographical error and the President will be informed. These things happen, because our administrative staff have to work overnight.
There is another defect in this which nobody has mentioned, namely we should never legislate by reference to other legislation. It is not fair to members of Parliament to have legislation by reference. In other words, members will have to go to the library and look up the provisions of the earlier Acts.
We committed ourselves in 1994 that Acts should be complete in themselves so that no teacher or trade union has a problem with going to the public library to look up what, for instance, section 21(1)(dA) of the South African Schools Act says. That should apply to all legislation, because we are very proud in the Education Department that all our legislation is easy to understand. It will put the lawyers out of business, because one can read the wretched legislation before one. It should be normal legislation by reference. It must be quite clear in that all the provisions must be complete in the legislation. That is the answer to Mr Panday. It is an error.
The other one about protocols I do not understand, I say to Mr Panday. We work in co-operative governance. We work very closely with the provincial MECs. We write three-monthly reports on the performance of the provincial administration to the President. It is the public domain, and I hope the present copy is in the library.
I want to inform Mr Williams that, of course, if there is an error the error must be corrected. This is not being deceitful, or lying or being party-political. We worked on the basis that we were told by the province that of the nine priorities we established in Tirisano, the province would not subscribe to the one on illiteracy, because no money had been allocated. So we worked on that basis. If Brian Figaji has worked out a programme, then we will receive the programme and correct the three-monthly report. However, the Western Cape was the only province to say that they were not going to participate in the literacy programme, because no money has been allocated.
I do not want to make any judgments about this. I will rely on the very moving, eloquent expression by Mrs Witbooi. However, I regret to say that the province speaks in two voices. There was this very moving eloquent statement by Mrs Witbooi when she said each illiterate person is half a person. I am grateful for Mr Williams' statement with regard to the department and the Minister and what they are doing, but I regret very much that he speaks as if he is speaking at a Nuremberg rally, or at a circus, frankly. [Laughter.]
While the last part of his speech was promotive, about us working together, he combined the role of the circus clown with the Nuremberg rally. [Laughter.] This is not, in fact, the way we should do this.
I have a statement here, which says that the Western Cape has the most efficient administration. As Minister, I am not in the business of handing out Hollywood awards. What award do I give to the candidate for mayor here, who subverts for young people the extraordinary integrity of our Constitution? He said that our Constitution was drafted by communists and fellow travellers. I am surprised he forgot to mention homosexuals, gays, one-legged people, liberals, because these are all the swearwords that were used before 1994. It is really a question of the so-called ``swart gevaar'' dressed up as the ``rooi gevaar''.
The DA should really withdraw him from the mayoral stakes. There can be no confidence in one of the most important cities in South Africa if, in fact, the candidate says that one must choose between the Bible and the Constitution. What an enormously harmful and offensive thing to say!
May I remind Mr Williams that the Constitutional Court found, in the Grootboom case, that the Western Cape, which is under the DA, unlike other provinces, fell short of its constitutional responsibility to build houses for the poor. The court ruled that there were good plans in place but that there was no proof that they were given effect. The Constitutional Court is the highest court of the land. Mr Marais, of course, says that it is a creation of the communists, no doubt, but it is the highest court. It ruled that the Western Cape was defective in its obligations. I know this because at Wallacedene an order was also made to provide minimum water. I can tell the House that the Western Cape is very good, looking at it as Minister of Water Affairs, except at looking after the interests of the poor and the impoverished. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF COMMITTEES: Order! I beg your pardon, hon Minister. Hon member, on what point are you rising?
Ms C BOTHA: Chairperson, I am raising a point in connection with the statement of Mr Marais. I just want to find out if the Minister is actually quoting him incorrectly, because Mr Marais said that the Constitution was ``also'' drafted by communists. Is he imputing that it was not ``also'' drafted by communists? He just left out one little word.
The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Chairperson, I will not make a distinction as if communists were beyond the pale. First of all, I do not know who the communists are, unless we are going to have a witch-hunt, at which the NP is very great. I do not know who the Communists are who were there. All I know is that people who made enormous sacrifices, unlike Mr Marais, and whose lives were in jeopardy and whose families were killed, took part in what is a great glory of South Africa, namely our own constitutional arrangements to make South Africa fit for all of us.
If that is the view of the DA, then we will have to fight them on their terms. This was a great compromise, a great compromise that gave us the freedom, the liberty, the protection of property - which they wanted very much. All these things were achieved. If there are communists who protect property, then, of course, it is a remarkable agreement that we have reached in South Africa. We will not allow anyone, particularly circus clowns, to diminish the extraordinary role of our Constitution. We cannot rant and rave about this. It is a serious matter, when someone is ranting and raving in election mode. Therefore, we are not paralysing the educational system.
If Mr Williams had travelled through the whole of South Africa he would know that the Hottentots Holland Mountain Range is not the end of South Africa; he should remember that. There is an enormous South Africa beyond that. He may think that the Hottentots Holland Mountains are the end of South Africa. The post-apartheid generation in primary schools are working with their teachers and there is an enormous resolution of issues. I am very proud to relate to them, as I am very proud to go to Bonteheuwel to open an extraordinary computer centre where young people, stunted in their growth because of poverty, are now finding enormous pressure and enormous pleasure in doing things. That was a private-public sector arrangement.
Great things are happening in our country. It is not a question of being paralysed. What we are doing with these Bills is changing the nature of the debate about education. The more we do so together, the more we will be able to break the so-called ``half a person'' syndrome that Mrs Witbooi referred to, which I refer to as disempowerment. All the members referred to this in their wonderfully evocative way. But there is one thing I would like to share with the House, and that is that the electorate are not stupid.
It is the stupid who elected the NP from 1948 onwards. It is the stupid who voted for the House of Delegates with 5% of the votes. It is the stupid who voted for the House of Representatives with 3,5% of the votes. They were graduates. They were all people with a high school education. But hon members must remember! There is no connection between illiteracy and stupidity. After all, Hitler was supported by the big army generals, the industrialists and the social elite who were born with silver spoons in their mouths, let alone in their saucers. Stupidity and illiteracy must never be coupled. There is enormous good sense in people who are not able to read and write because of the folly and infamy of the governments prior to 1994. We must join hands with them, with the churches, with the unions and with the places where there are buildings and offices.
I say this very carefully: We will not break the back of illiteracy unless we do have a national mobilisation. The Adult Basic Education and Training Bill does not only cover illiteracy, but also covers training. Our training in South Africa is going to be unique, because the training that is provided for will allow the Abet certificate holders to go on to higher education. That is the important thing. No country in the world has succeeded in this. As a former academic, I know that universities and higher education institutions look down on certificates obtained elsewhere. We will make sure that life-long learning is not, in fact, a cliché, ie something we say every now and then when we are drinking whisky or port and feeling very good about things.
Life-long learning must be there. I am trying to get the universities to admit people over the age of 25 who were never able to go to a university or higher education institution. They are not yet moving in that direction. We have been trying, like other countries in the world, to change things for women here, both black and white, who took part in the banquet of life, as one pope called it, that is by having children - and could not go to the universities or technikons. It seems irrational to me when people are penalised for taking part in the banquet of life. Let us get continual education.
I commend this Bill, and I thank members very much for their support for these two measures. Let us work together to ensure that they are implemented. [Applause.]
Adult Basic Education and Training Bill agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.
Education Laws Amendment Bill agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.
DEBATES ON ABUJA TREATY AND PAN-AFRICAN PARLIAMENT
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF COMMITTEES: Before we move on to the next Order of the Day, I would like to make a ruling on the following issues.
I wish to give a ruling on the declaration of vote made by the hon Mr Durr, who happens not to be in the House right now, regarding the adoption of the report of the Ad Hoc Select Committee on the Pan-African Parliament, on 2 November, yesterday.
According to the relevant section of the recording of yesterday's proceedings, the Deputy Chairperson of Committees, who was presiding at the time, said the following: ``In accordance with Rule 71 I shall first allow the provinces the opportunity to make their declarations of vote if they so wish.'' The hon Mr Durr then delivered a declaration of vote. The hon member did not indicate that he was speaking on behalf of his party. If he had done so, he would immediately have been ruled out of order since the decision was to be taken in terms of section 65 of the Constitution, that is on a provincial basis.
Furthermore, the head of the Western Cape delegation did not object to Mr Durr rising to make the declaration. The only reasonable conclusion was therefore that the hon Mr Durr was delivering a declaration of vote on behalf of the Western Cape province.
The second ruling concerns the issue of whether the hon member Mr Durr had referred to the Pan-African Parliament or had asked the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs a question relating to the Pan-African Parliament when she delivered her speech on the Abuja Treaty yesterday.
I have listened to the recording of proceedings and I am of the opinion that the hon Durr did not actually refer to the Pan-African Parliament nor did he pose a question to the hon the Minister thereon during her speech.
However, in the light of the fact that the Abuja Treaty and the matter of the Pan-African Parliament are closely related, there was nothing untoward in the Minister of Foreign Affairs referring to the Pan-African Parliament during the discussion of the Abuja Treaty.
Hon members, the behaviour displayed yesterday by some members of this House was noticed by the presiding officers and we felt that it was irresponsible of public representatives to behave in that way. It is our duty to remind hon members now and again that it is very important for us to keep up the respect and decorum of this Chamber.
Therefore we were forced to take a resolution to make the point that we enforce the maintenance of that decorum and respect by measures that we are going to take, because it is our duty to keep this House respectable and also to help hon members to be respectable as public representatives.
HIGHER EDUCATION AMENDMENT BILL
(Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)
The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Chairperson, this is a section 75 measure and, as hon members know, the Government's programme for the transformation of the South African higher education system is in fact identified in Education White Paper 3, A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education, and in the Act that this House, or its predecessor, had to pass, namely the Higher Education Act of 1997.
The purpose of this legislation was to establish the basis for higher education institutions to change the way in which they operate and especially to take account of broad, system-wide interests. But we wanted a South African system of higher education rather than a fragmented, racially organised higher education system.
Therefore the bringing into being of this Act has proved to be a challenge. Worldwide the changing of education systems has been a very complex undertaking at the best of times, but more so for a system which needs to address the inequalities of the past while making sure that we are in a position to meet the demands of the 21st century.
This is the second amending Bill that I have introduced since the promulgation of the Higher Education Act in December 1997, because there are shortcomings in the 1997 Act and we have to be honest about it. Shortcomings should be corrected, particularly if mischief takes place outside and the mischief itself has to be removed.
The Bill before the House seeks to address some of the shortcomings that have become obvious in the course of the implementation of the Higher Education Act. It has become clear that certain higher education institutions, both public and private, have become imperialistic and colonialistic. They have extended the scope and range of their operation in a way that is not consistent with the spirit of the original Act and may not be in the best interests of the system as a whole.
An example that I will give hon members, if they will allow me, is the type of development that we are currently witnessing. The past few years, in particular the past three years, have seen a vast proliferation of satellite campuses of public higher education institutions throughout the country, often without due regard to the effect these campuses have on sister institutions, or to the quality of education and infrastructural provision that students receive.
When I impose a moratorium on this, I impose it because a very well-known institution in Gauteng was going to buy a property in Bisho to set up a university-type satellite institution there, drawing students away from Eastern Cape institutions. This is not in the best tradition of the development of higher education, particularly since this Gauteng institution had to meet the needs of the locality and of the rest of South Africa.
So there is a kind of colonialism taking place that we have to be aware of and therefore deal with, because the Act imposes an obligation on me to determine higher education policy after consultation with the Council on Higher Education. This is what I have done and the Council on Higher Education has made proposals in Towards a New Higher Education Landscape, which is the result of work done by the Council on Higher Education. I commend this ``shape and size'' report because it is baffling to listen to people on the radio or on television opining without having read the report, or taking part in debates elsewhere without having read the report. It is a very important report because it makes the best case for higher education in South Africa.
The amendment to section 3 of the principal Act gives the Minister the discretion, under very specific conditions, to determine policy for public as well as private higher education institutions. The conditions are those embodied in the co-operative governance model to which Government is committed. This is how the Education White Paper 3 captures the co-operative governance model. This is what it says:
Co-operative governance assumes a proactive, guiding and constructive role for Government.
This is not a laid-back role as we think.
It assumes a co-operative relationship between the state and higher education institutions. One implication for this is, for example, that institutional autonomy is to be exercised in tandem with public accountability. Another is that the Ministry's oversight role does not involve responsibility for the micromanagement of institutions.
I am under great pressure to micromanage institutions, which I, in fact, refuse to do.
A third implication is that the Ministry will undertake its role in a transparent manner.
Therefore, what members see under subsection 3 is the acquisition of authority to do things in the public interest, not to micromanage. One must always refer to the public interest. Therefore, it is a South African solution for South African issues that we are raising. We are not talking about Mongolia, the United States or the United Kingdom. The powers of intervention by the Minister are much greater in the United Kingdom. Those who have the nostalgic view that anything that happens in the United Kingdom is the best of all possible worlds, well, I can tell them that the intervention powers of the secretary of State for Education in the United Kingdom are much greater than here. So the model we are proposing is consistent with our approach.
There have been objections in the other House to this amendment, and I hope hon members will not regurgitate the objections made in the National Assembly. I hope they will find very creative and innovative ways of objecting to this provision. One objection is that it gives me enormous powers that are contrary to the principle of institutional autonomy. It is alleged that the amendment will provide the Minister with what we call ``Draconian powers'' to overcome, by executive decree, the private Acts of universities.
The main thrust of this objection is that the proposed new subsection contravenes the principle of autonomy which is upheld by the preamble to the 1997 Act. This is misleading since no principle, in the sense of a statement having universal or unconditional application, is in fact built into the preamble. There is no such thing as absolute autonomy anywhere in the world. Certainly it is not in the preamble to the 1997 Act. The principle to which the Government is committed, and to which I am committed, is the principle of academic freedom, which cannot be equated with institutional autonomy, namely the right to write and research, by reference to what one honestly thinks in good faith to be the product of one's research, however controversial, difficult or impertinent it may be. That is the academic freedom which South African institutions are not notorious for exercising, and certainly were not notorious for exercising before 1994. But, for us, academic freedom is enormously important.
The 1997 White Paper says that academic freedom is one of the fundamental principles that must guide the process of higher education transformation in South Africa. So, academic freedom, which is a fundamental right protected by the Act, has to do with the pursuit and practice of academic work, be it teaching, research and community service - of which there is very little - without interference. On the other hand, the concept of autonomy - which is very important - is concerned with the relationship which holds between the state and higher education institutions, in particular the ways in which the state manages or steers the public higher education system. So the concepts of academic freedom and autonomy are not identical.
In education our approach has been to entrench the principle of academic freedom. Some of the professors, in the exercise of their academic freedom, write the most extraordinary things about the Government and the President, although these may have nothing to do with their research or the work they are doing. One must bear this with all the equanimity and tolerance one can generate. But all higher education institutions must have limits or conditions imposed on their autonomy. This is a practice of all publicly funded education systems everywhere in the world. I must remind the Democratic Alliance of the fact that the 1997 Act explicitly says that higher education institutions in South Africa have conditional autonomy. It makes it quite clear, out of an honesty which is rare in governments, that no principle of autonomy can exempt either a higher education institution or the system as a whole from meeting the transformation goals that the Government is committed to and which the community expects.
There is a clear indication that the higher education system is moving only slowly towards meeting the goals and objectives of transformation. In fact, some institutions are not moving at all. They set up satellite campuses outside the main, beautifully green campuses, because the blacks can go to the Vaal Triangle, which is far away from those very sylvan surroundings of the institutions. That is not in fact meeting the needs of transformation because transformation is really the internalisation of the change that is required. So we support the analysis of the Council on Higher Education that we must have transformation. It is clear that the higher education system is not meeting the national transformation needs.
On gender grounds, the appointment system in higher education institutions is appalling. Where are the senior professors who are women, black, white, green or indifferent? Where are the senior lecturers who are women? Where are the consultants in the teaching hospitals who are women? It is only easy to find women in higher education under a microscope compared to the glory of looking at this House and the National Assembly. Therefore, the amendment gives the Minister of Education the discretion to address that laissez faire - leave alone - development that has characterised higher education recently. It does so while fully respecting the principles of academic freedom and co-operative governance, and I am firmly committed to that.
Now to move to the second key area addressed in the amending Bill, and this is a very serious matter. It is common cause that a number of higher education institutions are facing serious financial problems. Some institutions are beginning to grapple with the financial difficulties in very clear, original ways while others have posted such large overdrafts with financial institutions that these are threatening the very survival of these institutions. They are businesses that can be liquidated under the Companies Act. The Government has to take steps to protect the substantial investment that the taxpayer has made in South Africa's public higher education system.
Therefore, the proposed amendments to section 40 of the 1997 Higher Education Act are designed precisely to do that. Public investment in higher education is considerable. Nearly all the land, buildings and much of the teaching and research equipment on the 36 public universities and technikons in South Africa have been purchased with the assistance of substantial government funding. Therefore, the amendment recognises that public universities and technikons have to enter into legally binding contracts. However, it says that before they enter into contracts, loan or overdraft agreements, which involve either the construction of a permanent building or any other immovable development, the purchase of immovable property and the long-term lease of immovable property, they must do something - the council must agree.
Do members know that at one higher education institution the vice chancellor built an enormous administrative block, totalling about R12 million without the council knowing about it? One cannot have this kind of development in which individuals decide on behalf of institutions, however leading luminaries they may be. They may be graduates of leading universities of the world, but we want transparency. The Minister's approval must be obtained if certain limits are exceeded by the raising of a loan or overdraft. The limits, which I will come to in my reply to the debate, are very reasonable.
Objections have been raised to the effect that these new requirements will significantly alter the right of institutions to enter into legally binding contracts and will have a severe impact on the institutions. The response is straightforward. The Minister clearly has an obligation to ensure that public funds are employed properly and responsibly everywhere, in historically white or historically black universities.
In response to the second part, many other countries have requirements of this kind without affecting the higher education institutions. For example, in the United Kingdom, the higher education funding council, which operates as an agent of the government, lays down a detailed set of conditions that must be met. There, if they exceed 4% of total income, they must report this to the council first. We talk about 5% here.
So I ask this House to remember that the conditions we are laying down are less onerous and stringent than they are in the United Kingdom.
Finally, the amending Bill strengthens the regulatory framework for the operation of private higher education institutions. There is an overwhelming demand from our public in South Africa - the real public, not the chattering classes only - that there must be a real regulation of private higher education institutions, particularly overseas institutions that are coming here to make a profit out of our educational system and not to participate in the great development of South Africa. If they are coming here to make profits, then we must treat them separately, differently, from South African private higher education institutions.
That is what we are trying to do: distinguish between the local and foreign institutions. No country, particularly a Third World country, can afford to sit back and watch its future and the sustainability of its higher education system threatened by foreign institutions that are looking for new markets, which is what they are doing. It is a market thing; it is treating education as a commodity. We take a slightly different view.
Therefore I commend this important Bill, as we commended it to the National Assembly, and I hope that the Council will bear in mind the very significant improvements it will make to protect the public interest as far as higher education is concerned. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M L Mushwana): I call upon the hon member D M Kgware to address the House. [Interjections.] I am told there have been some changes. I now call upon Mrs J Witbooi to address the House.
Mrs J WITBOOI: Chairperson, hon Minister and hon members, the New NP has a few concerns regarding this Bill, and the first one is clause 2. This clause makes provision for the Minister, in terms of the policy, and in the interest of the higher education system as a whole, to determine the scope and range of operations of public higher education institutions, private higher education institutions and individual public or private higher education institutions.
With regard to clause 4, although the amendment stems from a desire to address the financial irregularities at some institutions, the impact of the proposed amendments on those institutions that do not make themselves guilty of financial mismanagement should be considered. The solution, in our view, lies in good governance by all higher education institutions.
Our concern with regard to clause 7 is that this amendment is most probably unconstitutional, since it infringes on the right to establish and maintain educational institutions. If there are valid reasons for which an application by private education providers may be refused, these must be expressly set out and prescribed. They may then be tested against the limitation provision in section 36 of the Constitution. The New NP cannot support this Bill.
Mr N M RAJU: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon special delegates, hon colleagues, it is with understandable trepidation, this being exam time, that I have to state that the DP also does not support the Higher Education Amendment Bill.
Some of the salient features of the Bill are as follows. Firstly, the Bill seeks to extend the power of the Minister of Education in determining higher education policy. Secondly, the process of the filling of vacancies in the council is to be left in the hands of the Minister. Thirdly, the higher education institutions may not enter into a loan or overdraft agreement without the prior approval of the council and, in some instances, without the Minister's concurrence. Fourthly, the Bill is further amended to make provision for the registration of private higher education institutions, registration requirements and the determination of applicants for their registration.
On the technical side, the Bill also seeks to amend the Act so as to prevent the abuse of terms such as ``university'', ``technikon'', ``rector'', ``chancellor'' and ``vice-chancellor'', applicable to private higher education institutions, thus making it an offence for those outside the periphery of registered private higher education institutions to use these terms, and to allow the council of a public higher education institution to change its name without the approval of the Minister.
Like my colleague from the New NP, I must also express some concern on behalf of the DP, especially with the amendment of section 3 of Act 101 of 1997, in terms of which the Minister of Education may determine the scope and range of operations of both public and private higher education institutions, including individual public and private higher education institutions.
The amendment to section 40 in particular is also a matter of concern. The proposal that ministerial approval of loans and overdraft agreements become obligatory attacks the ramparts of the independence and autonomy of the council of an institution, thereby emasculating its ability to govern the institution properly and effectively.
Let me hasten to add that the DP acknowledges the absolute necessity to address serious financial misdemeanours committed at certain institutions, but do we have to harass those institutions that are steering clear of nefarious financial practices? It would be a fallacy to suggest that only a ministerial veto can ensure sound governance at a higher education institution.
In any case, the Minister does have his finger on the pulse already, by virtue of the fact that the Council for Higher Education is obliged to report to the Minister, and the Minister plays an important role in the appointment of members of the Council for Higher Education. So it is not as if the Minister is going to be left in limbo. The Minister will be kept au fait with all that is going on at any public higher education institution.
When one further considers the fact that the existing Act prescribes proper record-keeping and full reporting to the Minister on all matters affecting financial affairs, we find it difficult to accept the amendment to section 40.
Owing to these serious concerns, the DP chooses to withhold its support for this Bill. [Interjections.]
Mr D M KGWARE: Chairperson, hon Minister, colleagues, special delegates, let me start by indicating that the committee met on the 10th and looked into the Higher Education Amendment Bill. Of course, it is true that at the meeting only one party indicated its concern, and that was the New NP. However, we all accepted the Bill without amendment. That is the position of the committee.
Higher education is one of the greatest challenges confronting society in the new millennium. Higher education is faced with the challenge of preparing itself to fulfil its mission adequately in a world which is transforming, and to meet the needs and requirements of the 21st century society, which will be knowledgeable, by means of information and education.
Its paramount mission is to serve the human being and society through its work of research and inquiry, its courses of study and training, and its partnership with various social actors. Higher education is called upon to make a key contribution to the opening up and highlighting of new paths for a better future for society and the individual in order to give direction and shape to that future.
For this standpoint, it has a twofold mission and that is, firstly, to participate actively in the solving of major global, regional and local problems such as poverty, hunger, illiteracy, social exclusion, the exacerbation of inequalities at national and international levels, the widening of the gap between industrialised and developing countries, and protection of the environment; and, secondly, to assist in drawing up proposals and recommendations to promote universal respect for human rights, equal rights for women and men, justice and the application of democratic principles within its own institutions in society and foster understanding among nations, religions and cultural groups.
Given the important role of higher education, it has become necessary for us as a country to rethink education as a whole - and that has been done. The levels or forms of education, including higher education, can no longer be regarded as truly final. Its structures and courses should not remain fixed at the same place, but should also evolve in order to respond to the evolution of our society.
We know very well what happened when the programme to transform education in our institutions of higher learning was implemented. We saw in the newspapers some people running around criticising that type of a thing. That indicated that within our society there were still people who are not yet ready to accept change and that the question of changing the mind-set also needs to be addressed. People need to read progressive documents, not only old documents of the past, but also documents on research that has been done so that one can equip oneself with the actual information. We still remember what happened in 1976 with regard to education, and that kind of scenario should always be kept in mind whenever we look into education.
This is particularly true given the gross distortions and inequities that existed prior to 1994. These included a lack of equity in the distribution of resources to institutions, enormous disparities between historically black and historically white institutions in terms of facilities and capacities, skewed distribution of students in certain disciplines with no more than a handful of black students in fields such as the sciences, engineering and technology. In addition, the governance structures were characterised by fragmentation, inefficiency and ineffectiveness.
Since the enactment of the Higher Education Act, significant progress has been made in addressing the above distortions and broadening access in higher education. Yet, despite the broadening of access, inequalities still exist. The reasons for these inequalities are numerous, including geographical, economic and social factors, in particular those affecting women, the rural population and various disadvantaged groups such as the disabled.
In some of the provinces, for example, there are no institutions of higher learning. Many children have to go to universities in other provinces. This has enormous financial implications for their families because, not only must they cover tuition fees, but they must also cover accommodation expenses. The sad thing about this is that most of our talented matriculants come from poor families. Many of them will not be able to get bursaries, which means that higher education is denied them, purely because of their social and economic status. Every matriculant should have the right to go to university, and their decision whether to go to university or not should be a free choice and not forced upon them by virtue of their social and economic status or geographical location. This will help us to understand the situation in higher education.
I would like to make a special appeal to all of us as public representatives. There are documents that we have been given and we have received reports from the Department of Education, and we have gone through some documents on the review of education. It is up to us now as public representatives to educate our structures on the ground, particularly in the provinces, so that we start to understand the content in those particular documents - that is our duty.
I am addressing this to members of the opposition. Whenever we have a debate, we make a point without actually having read the information in the research document, and that is why we sometimes clash with one another. I would like to make a special appeal to colleagues that, yes, it is time for local government elections, but let us not turn education into a cheap politicking tool. Let us go into the implementation of these programmes of transforming higher education to assist the Government in terms of such implementing. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Mr Chairperson, a very famous philosopher in the 12th century once said: ``Please God, make me virtuous, but not yet.'' I get the impression here that people from the New NP and the DP want to be part of this process, but they want to speak for special vested interests. Therefore the hold of the special interests denies them the capacity to be part of the great movement.
They want to speak for all the people with outstretched or semioutstretched hands. But they do not define all the people in the way that we would like to. They go into the townships and they want to get the township votes now that ethnic mobilisation by the New NP is taking place. They will go to the townships to get votes from the blacks, but they will not go to the schools and universities where racial incidents are taking place. They will not go and talk about transformation and the need for tolerance and understanding.
The implication of what is taking place here is that the historically black universities need treatment and they need control of their financial matters, but that is a myth. I regret to say it is a racist myth, because if one looks at the details of what is happening, one will see a new world of segregative provisions for halls of residence in one university because they think that typically the slave-hearts would like it that way.
The powers of intervention that I have at present are enormous, and I say this to the faint-hearted. Through the purse, the allocation of resources - the only allocation that I make, is the 14% of the education budget to higher education - I can control what they do. I do not wish to do that, because it is nontransparent. Under this provision here, I have to consult the Council for Higher Education. I would like to say to Mr Raju that the Council for Higher Education is not a know-all organisation. It does not know what is going on in every institution. In fact, the small staff that I have know what is happening in virtually all the institutions. The council is an advisory body that represents interests. Therefore I will consult them, as I am consulting them on language policy and on the shape and size of our education. They have written their report in this regard, and by January I shall write my response to them. I have not decided on my response, unlike some opinion-makers, but I am going to follow the attempt laid down there. I am not saying that I will reject it, but I am now looking at the 61 submissions made on this.
I say to the DP and the New NP that they have to look very concretely at this. The New NP does not state reasons why they object. They assert what they are doing. Mr Raju, on the other hand, reverses the arguments raised in the National Assembly with no evidence of engagement with issues at all.
I have been open to meeting them to debate the difference between autonomy and academic freedom, and there is a real difference. We should go through chapter and verse to look at these real distinctions. We must advance the whole issue of academic freedom.
I would like to tell Mr Kgware that part of the refashioning is to look at the interests of Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape. There are so many satellite institutions set up. There are at least three universities and technikons in Mpumalanga. It is highly irresponsible that there should be satellite institutions without reference to a framework, because we are not a rich country.
Businesspeople give endowments to the historically white universities, but they do not give endowments to the historically black universities. They are not interested in places like Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape. We will have institutions of higher learning, providing we can rationalise, providing we have power to change and move.
Now, finally, I must tell hon members and this House that there is no free ride or entitlement to higher education. The Constitution does not say that everyone has a right to higher education. It depends on their needs.
We are spending R270 million - that is a real redress - a year, to provide for the grants and the loans to students. These are all done through universities and technikons. No student in need who has academic potential should ever be denied a scholarship or a bursary, but beyond that we cannot go. Beyond that we have the two Bills. We have to invest money in Abet and in technical high schools. However, we must not give the impression that there is a free ride to higher education. We must support those institutions that object to students who have no academic capacity who insist on studying there for four or five years.
I end by saying that this is a very important debate. It allows us to look at other issues of higher education. When my proposals go to the Cabinet, I undertake that I will also bring them to this House, as I promised to the National Assembly, and we will have a debate here, in this House, before any final decisions are taken. That is the spirit in which we will work. That is the spirit in which this amending Bill will be operated by me and by my successors, because we must take into account the actual needs of our country, rather than some ideological interest that one may have - one's commitment to private higher education institutions, or one's commitment to those who give money to one's party for the purposes of fighting elections.
This is not our interest. Our interest is in the best interests of our young people, and particularly the institutions that exist in our country. [Applause.]
Bill agreed to in accordance with section 75 of the Constitution (New National Party and Democratic Party dissenting).
FAST-TRACKING OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT: MUNICIPAL STRUCTURES SECOND AMENDMENT BILL
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M L Mushwana): Before we adjourn, I have one announcement which I must make. A document should have been circulated to hon members indicating the fast-tracking of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Second Amendment Bill. The impact is that members will be expected to come back to Parliament after adjournment. The intention is that the National Assembly will pass this legislation on 20 November and the NCOP on 21 November.
Members will be allocated two tickets to come back to Parliament, but members of that particular committee will be allocated four tickets. I thought I needed to bring this to your attention.
I thank the hon the Minister for this lively debate.
The Council adjourned at 12:06.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces:
1...... The Speaker and the Chairperson:
(1)..... The Joint Programme Subcommittee on 3 November 2000 took a decision, in accordance with Joint Rule 216(2), that the Local Government: Municipal Structures Second Amendment Bill, 2000, be fast-tracked by, where necessary, dispensing with any House Rule or Joint Rule and shortening any period within which any step in the legislative process relating to the Bill must be completed in order to make it possible for the Bill to be passed by 24 November 2000.
In terms of Joint Rule 216(4) this decision must be tabled in both Houses for ratification.
National Council of Provinces:
1....... The Chairperson:
Message from National Assembly to National Council of Provinces:
Bills passed by National Assembly on 3 November 2000 and transmitted for concurrence:
(a)..... Revenue Laws Amendment Bill [B 70 - 2000] (National Assembly - sec 77) - (Select Committee on Finance - National Council of Provinces).
(b)..... Abolition of Lebowa Mineral Trust Bill [B 49B - 2000] (National Assembly - sec 75) - (Select Committee on Economic Affairs - National Council of Provinces).
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces:
1....... Report of the Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women, dated 3 November 2000:
The Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women (hereafter referred to as the Joint Committee) reports as follows:
Banks Amendment Bill
One of the tasks of the Committee is to ensure that legislation passed by Parliament is gender-sensitive.
The Chairperson of the Select Committee on Finance of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Q D Mahlangu, informed the Chairperson of the Joint Committee, Ms P Govender, that the Banks Amendment Bill [B 56B - 2000] was drafted in gender-insensitive language. An example of this is on page 8, in line 30, of the Bill, under Clause 4:
"If before or during any review under subsection (1) it transpires that any member of the board of review has any direct or indirect personal interest in the outcome of that review, such member shall recuse himself and he shall be replaced by -".
Another example is on page 16, in line 7, under Clause 10:
"(a) If, in the opinion of the Registrar, any bank will be unable to repay, when legally obliged to do so, deposits made with it or will probably be unable to meet any other of its obligations, the Minister may, if he deems it desirable in the public interest, with the written consent of the chief executive officer or the chairman of the board of directors of that bank, appoint a curator to the bank.".
The implication of this is the assumption that all these positions are held by men.
The Joint Committee obtained a legal opinion from the Women's Legal Centre, stating that it was possible to change the Bill and suggesting ways in which it could be changed, which it forwarded to the Chairperson of the Select Committee.
On 3 October, the Select Committee had a discussion with State Law Advisers and Parliamentary Law Advisers, who indicated that the Bill, under the prevailing circumstances, could not be amended by the Select Committee. The Select Committee unanimously felt that the Bill had to be made gender-sensitive, but passed it, stating in their report that it -
"... notes with concern that the principle Act (the Banks Act, 1990) and the Banks Amendment Bill [B 56B - 2000] are gender-insensitive, and recommends that the National Treasury correct this within 12 months of the adoption of this Report by the Council".
The Select Committee also noted the urgency of amending the Interpretation Act to facilitate gender-sensitive drafting.
The Joint Committee is aware of the fact that Parliament has passed many Bills amending principal Acts which are not drafted in a gender-sensitive manner.
The Joint Committee is of the opinion that legislation must be drafted in a gender-sensitive manner. We therefore support the call to the National Treasury to correct the principal Act, the Banks Act of 1990, within 12 months of adoption of the Select Committee's Report. This Act must then be brought to Parliament. We further call on the Justice Ministry to table an amended Interpretation Act in Parliament as a matter of urgency.
The policy and practice of this Parliament has been to draft the Constitution and all Bills in a gender-sensitive manner. Therefore, the Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women calls on the Finance Ministry to ensure that its drafters draft all Finance Bills in a gender-sensitive manner, in line with the Constitution.
National Council of Provinces:
1....... Report of the Ad Hoc Select Committee on General Intelligence Law Amendment Bill on the General Intelligence Law Amendment Bill [B 36B - 2000] (National Assembly - sec 75), dated 3 November 2000:
The Ad Hoc Select Committee on General Intelligence Law Amendment Bill, having considered the subject of the General Intelligence Law Amendment Bill [B 36B - 2000] (National Assembly - sec 75), referred to it and classified by the Joint Tagging Mechanism as a section 75 Bill, reports that it has agreed to the Bill.