Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill: Final Negotiating Mandate

Education (WCPP)

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


The Committee convened in a hybrid meeting to deliberate on the Western Cape's final mandate regarding the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, submitted by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Deliberations encompassed Clauses 1 to 19 of the Bill, addressing a spectrum of amendments and proposals. The Chairperson provided a comprehensive overview of the meeting's objective, which was to deliberate on the Western Cape's final stance concerning the bill.

Members raised concerns and proposed amendments concerning various aspects of the bill, including funding allocations, the potential criminalisation of parents for non-compliance with schooling requirements, and the integration of recommendations from entities such as the National Council for the Blind and the FW de Klerk Foundation.

The ANC voiced unwavering support for the bill without any proposed amendments. However, Members from other parties presented specific amendments and voiced their respective support or opposition to individual clauses. To ensure accuracy, the Chairperson diligently ensured that each Member's stance was accurately reflected.

Acknowledging time constraints, the Committee opted to schedule a meeting the following Monday to continue discussions and finalise its decisions on pending clauses.

Meeting report

Final mandate on BELA Bill

The meeting commenced with the Chairperson providing an overview of its purpose, which entailed the deliberation of the Western Cape's final mandate on the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, submitted by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

Mr K Sayed (ANC) submitted his apologies, and Ms P Harris (ANC) was identified as his alternate, standing in for him during the meeting.

The Chairperson acknowledged the volume of documents to be reviewed and informed Members that the relevant document could be downloaded online onto their laptops. For those present in the Committee room, physical copies of the matrix were available in three parts. She explained her plan to guide the Members through the matrix, summarising the general sentiments of the public, particularly regarding support or objection to the bill, with the procedural officer's assistance. She assured those following remotely that the documentation would be provided to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) for their website and uploaded onto the Western Cape Provincial Parliament website. After discussing general matters from the public, she clarified that she would address the proposed amendments, some of which might not be included in the matrix but in separate documents. She anticipated taking a short break after the matrix discussion to commence with the clause-by-clause examination of the bill.

Stressing the importance of negotiation, she reminded Members that compromises could be sought on particular clauses, allowing for short breaks if needed. She outlined the voting options for clauses and the bill, including supporting, opposing, abstaining, or supporting/opposing with amendments. She elaborated on the amendment process, emphasising that support or opposition could still be expressed, depending on whether the amendments were accepted.

The Chairperson inquired whether it would be acceptable to extend the meeting beyond 1 pm if they were unable to finish on time. She did not want to schedule another meeting that would allow Members to finish this task. She also mentioned the presence of the Legal Team to address legal aspects of the bill.

Mr C Fry (DA) indicated his agreement with the proposal.

Mr C Poole (DA) said he agreed with Mr Fry.

Mr F Christians (ACDP) expressed uncertainty regarding his availability beyond 1 pm.

Adv Romeo Maasdorp, Legal Advisor, Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP), said that he had other commitments, with a meeting scheduled for 13:30. He had rescheduled the other meeting to accommodate the current one, but expressed willingness to negotiate with Members of both meetings to find a suitable solution.

The Chairperson announced that if they were unable to finish, she would arrange for the Members to reconvene. She then directed the presentation of the matrix of the BELA Bill on the screen, noting that it contained a lengthy list of submissions from the public during participation. See matrix here attached 

After going through the matrix and various submissions received, the Chairperson informed the meeting that they had received the very last submission of the 5 445 submissions from the Western Cape, which they had thoroughly reviewed in accordance with the clauses and paragraphs in the Mohale judgment. She then announced a five minute break, instructing the Members to express support or objection to specific clauses rather than the entire bill, to streamline the negotiation process.

Proposed amendments

After the break, she requested Members to indicate any proposed amendments to facilitate negotiation. She checked that a quorum was still present before proceeding, and then proceeded to table the respective clauses for discussion. She also asked Members to keep the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) submission and other relevant submissions on amendments open for reference during the clause-by-clause discussion. She mentioned specific submissions related to amendments, such as those regarding homeschooling from parents and various organisations.

Clause 1

She began by tabling Clause 1 of the bill, which dealt with various definitions, and invited Members to provide input.

Mr Fry expressed his support for the amendments to Clause One, proposing additional inclusions such as online schooling meetings, special needs education, a refined definition of bullying, and an emphasis on equality and equity.

The Chairperson sought clarification regarding his request for the inclusion of online schooling. Upon confirmation, she noted similarities with recommendations from the FW De Klerk Foundation. She committed to presenting the proposal to the WCED and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for their input.

Mr Christians proposed an amendment regarding the inclusion of corporal punishment, specifying that it should not be defined as corporal punishment in schools.

The Chairperson sought clarification, to confirm that he wanted corporal punishment to be excluded from the definition.

Mr Christians confirmed that he wanted corporate punishment to be removed.

The Chairperson highlighted a definition of bullying recommended by the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), which she believed could be considered for inclusion as a general definition. She mentioned other clauses from the CGE, most of which pertained to discrimination and were already covered in existing legislation and the Constitution. Expressing scepticism about duplicating similar matters across the legislation, she sought advice from the WCED and DBE, particularly regarding the necessity of including a definition for bullying. She mentioned stakeholders' requests for the inclusion of a definition for micro-schooling, seeking views on this matter as well.

She proceeded to hand over to the DBE, followed by the WCED, and requested confirmation of who from the DBE was online.

Officials from the DBE were experiencing network challenges, and had exited the meeting. The Chairperson acknowledged the situation, and said they would return to clause one to address necessary points before proceeding to vote on it.

She then invited Members to share their views on clause two, noting Mr Fry's raised hand and the absence of other hands online. She invited Mr Fry to proceed with his input.

Clause 2

Mr Fry expressed his support for the intention of mandating Grade R, but raised concerns about the financial costs and feasibility of the decision. He questioned the possibility of phasing in Grade R, and raised concerns about schools lacking adequate facilities for implementation. He also inquired about the timeframe required to build capacity. Additionally, he expressed worry about the potential 12-month prison penalty for failure to enrol a child without just cause. He sought clarification on recourse available to parents who opted not to send their children to Grade R. He proposed an alternative of limiting the penalty to six months, citing concerns about the disruption of schools and the right to education, emphasising the need for prudence in implementing this right. He concluded by declaring the importance of basic education as a realisable right.

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Fry's points and summarised his suggestion of sticking to the current South African Schools Act (SASA) in terms of criminalisation, without changing it. She noted his concerns about the disruption of schools and questions regarding finances, despite his overall support in principle.

Mr Christians shared several points. Firstly, he highlighted the importance of Early Childhood Development (ECD) as a foundation for life, and suggested that ECD centres should be supported to assist communities. Secondly, he agreed with the acknowledgement that financial constraints would hinder the implementation of Grade R. Lastly, he expressed concern about penalising parents from poor communities for not enrolling their children in school. He believed alternative measures should exist, rather than criminalising or imposing fines on parents. While he did not specify the exact amendment, he drew attention to the unfairness of penalising the poorest of the poor.

Mr Poole expressed his agreement with Mr Fry's points, and seconded his proposal. He also recalled that the FW De Klerk Foundation had mentioned certain aspects in clauses 13 and 14, suggesting that these may also need to be included as amendments.

The Chairperson asked if Mr Poole was referring to the undocumented learners mentioned by the FW De Klerk Foundation.

Mr Poole confirmed that he was.

The Chairperson proceeded to explain the Foundation's suggestion regarding provision for undocumented learners. She emphasised that criminalising families for lacking the required documentation, which they may not be responsible for obtaining, would be unjust.

She expressed similar concerns about finances. While she supported Grade R and ECD in principle, she highlighted the need for a negotiating mandate that included presentations from the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC), the DBE and National Treasury (NT) on the financing and costing of basic education. She underscored that basic education was an immediately realisable right, unlike other topics such as tourism. It was important to ensure that legislation was adequately funded, especially since there was currently no budget or committed funding for the BELA Bill.

She proposed opposing the clause, recommending that the current criminalisation proposal should not be supported, and advocating for sticking to the current SASA. She suggested agreeing to Clause 4c, which addresses the implications of school disruption, and to ask the DBE about provisions for undocumented learners to prevent their unjust criminalisation.

Mr Fry added to the discussion, stating that in yesterday's meeting, it was noted that the BELA Bill was already 70% funded. However, he clarified that this percentage referred to 70% of the equity for the full budget of the DBE, not specifically for the BELA Bill.

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Fry's clarification, and suggested including provincial budget figures in the summary under Clause Two. She asked Mr Christians to confirm his stance on the clause.

Mr Christians clarified that he supported the clause with the amendments made.

The Chairperson attempted to contact Mr Poole to confirm his position on the clause, but received no response. She then called on Ms Harris.

Ms Harris expressed the ANC's support for the bill in its current form, without any amendments. She clarified that they endorsed all the clauses as they were reflected in the BELA Bill.

The Chairperson acknowledged this and noted it for future reference.

Mr Poole seconded Mr Fry's proposal, indicating his agreement.

Mr Christians sought clarification, expressing uncertainty about his previous statement regarding opposition due to financial constraints. He clarified that his opposition stemmed from the lack of funding, rather than the content of the clause.

The Chairperson explained the proposed amendments, distinguishing between comments and actual amendments.

Regarding the comments, she mentioned the support in principle, the financial constraints, and the inclusion of presentation summaries. As for amendments, she highlighted the proposal to exclude the criminalisation of parents for not sending their children to school, the amendment to Section 3 of SASA to maintain consistency with the current SASA, and the support for preventing school disruptions.

She mentioned the request to ask the DBE to consider including ECD in the regulations. Additionally, she referred to Mr Poole's proposal to urge the DBE to address provisions for undocumented learners to prevent their parents from being criminalised for circumstances beyond their control.

After listing the amendments and comments, she asked the Members whether they would still support the clause, if the NCOP did not accept the amendments.

Mr Christians said he would not support the clause if the amendments were not accepted.

The Chairperson stated her agreement with the proposals and her intention to oppose the clause if the NCOP did not accept the amendments. She confirmed the completion of discussion on Clause Two, and moved on to Clause Three, checking if the DBE was online and expressing her desire to conclude Clause One before proceeding further.

Clause 3

As the DBE officials were still not online, the Chairperson said they would return to Clause 1 later and proceeded to discuss Clause Three. She explained that Clause Three, found on page seven of the bill, involved the insertion of a new clause regarding monitoring learner attendance.

Mr Poole expressed his support for the principle, with amendments. He elaborated on his proposal, suggesting that upon receiving a report from the educator about a learner's absence without valid reason, the matter should be investigated within 24 hours. This investigation should include reasonable efforts to contact the parents to determine the reason for the learner's absence. He also proposed that the principal should report the matter to the school governing body (SGB) for further intervention.

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Poole's proposal, and stated her agreement with it.

Mr Fry expressed his support for Mr Poole's proposal by seconding it.

Mr Christians confirmed his agreement with the proposal.

The Chairperson noted that Ms Harris had already indicated the ANC's support for all the clauses, and this meant  that there were no amendments to Clause 3.

Clause 4

Mr Fry expressed his opposition to Clause 4, with amendments. He proposed the withdrawal of Clause 4d and Clause 4 sub-section 4b. Additionally, he suggested amending Clause 4(g) to include a provision stating that if schools fail or refuse to provide the requested documentation within seven working days, an appeal may be decided based on available evidence. He clarified that he recommended the withdrawal of the clauses, but also offered an alternative suggestion.

The Chairperson acknowledged the suggestions provided as alternatives. She clarified that the recommendation was to strike Clause 4 entirely, with certain alternative amendments proposed.

Mr Christians expressed his agreement with the proposed changes, considering them reasonable. He also agreed with Mr Fry's suggestion to strike the clause if the proposed changes were not implemented.

Mr Poole indicated his agreement with Mr Fry's proposal.

The Chairperson added clarification regarding the reading of Clause 4. She highlighted the proposed amendment to Clause 4, amending Section 5d of the SASA. She specifically mentioned changing "after consultation with the governing body of the school," to "in consultation with the governing body of the school," located at lines 8 and 9 of page 8.

She reiterated the alternative proposals suggested by Mr Fry, emphasising the withdrawal of Clause 4d and 4e and the amendment of Clause 4g to include provisions for schools failing to provide the requested documentation within seven working days. She stressed the need for an appeal process to be included. These proposals were presented as alternatives if the full clause was not struck.

Ms Harris had already indicated her support for these amendments.

The Chairperson encouraged Members to send through their suggestions to ensure clarity. She noted that Mr Fry had opposed the clause and the respective alternative amendments.

Before moving to Clause 5, she inquired if the DBE was back online.

Mr James Ndlebe, Director: Education Management and Governance Development, DBE, confirmed his presence.

The Chairperson said that Clause 1 still required input before the proposed amendments could be addressed, and proceeded to summarise the requests made by Members regarding the clause.

Clause 1-- DBE's input

Mr Fry suggested including online schooling and home education in the definitions, as well as the De Klerk Foundation's submission regarding the definition of equality and equity.

Mr Christians had raised concerns about corporal punishment and proposed its removal. However, the Chairperson noted the need for further advice on this matter due to constitutional court judgments.

The Chairperson herself suggested considering the inclusion of definitions for micro-schooling based on suggestions from the elders, as well as the possibility of including a definition for bullying in line with the submission from the CGE. She emphasised the importance of obtaining input on these matters before proceeding with voting on the clause and its respective amendments.

Mr Ndlebe provided clarification on the matters discussed. He affirmed that the definition of bullying could be included, as it aligned with the code of conduct. However, corporal punishment could not be removed due to constitutional mandates. He referred to recent events involving teachers found guilty of corporal punishment and the serious approach taken by the courts on this matter.

Regarding the definition of cottage schools, he explained that they were not included because there was no reference to them within the BELA Bill itself. The focus of the BELA Bill was primarily on ordinary public schools, with other issues such as online schooling and cottage schools being addressed in separate legislation, guidelines and regulations. He mentioned ongoing consultations with relevant stakeholders on these matters, particularly on bringing cottage schools and online schooling into alignment with the broader scope of homeschooling.

Mr Ndlebe concluded by stating that defining cottage schools within the BELA Bill would require further discussion and consultation with stakeholders, which had not yet taken place. Therefore, he suggested focusing on ordinary public schools within the current scope of the bill.

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Ndlebe's explanation, and proposed that while online and homeschooling would not be included in the current BELA Bill, they could recommend regulation in that regard.

Mr Ndlebe supported this suggestion, highlighting that the bill already includes a clause empowering the Minister to regulate homeschooling. He proposed removing the clause related to learner pregnancy regulations, and substituting it with regulations for homeschooling. He said that regulations for homeschooling would cover various aspects, such as districts, staffing, and other related matters, which would require collaboration with stakeholders in their development.

He suggested adding cottage schools under the same category of regulations to be determined. This approach would facilitate the development of a comprehensive set of regulations covering various educational aspects.

The Chairperson sought clarification from Mr Ndlebe on whether recommendations for regulating online schooling and home education could be made, emphasising the distinction between recommending regulation and granting regulatory power. Regarding the matter of microschooling, she expressed her personal disagreement with its inclusion in regulations, but was open to comments on it. She suggested incorporating the proposed definition of bullying from the CGE into the document, noting the lack of controversy surrounding it. She also mentioned Mr Fry's proposal from a certain foundation regarding equity and equality clauses, and deferred to Mr Christians to indicate if he still wished to proceed with it. Finally, she requested Mr Ndlebe's input on the equity and equality proposal.

Mr Ndlebe sought further clarification.

The Chairperson acknowledged the proposal from the FW de Klerk Foundation regarding definitions for equality and equity in the bill.

Mr Christians expressed concerns about the broadness of the proposed definition, particularly regarding corporal punishment. He suggested that the definition could potentially lead to educators being found guilty of minor infractions, emphasising the need for clarity and caution in defining corporal punishment.

The Chairperson sought input from other Members regarding Mr Christians' concerns about the definition of corporal punishment.

Mr Ndlebe expressed agreement with the current definition.

The Chairperson said voting Members needed to express their views and vote on the matter to determine the outcome.

Mr Fry expressed support for Mr Christians' concerns about corporal punishment, indicating confusion about the information provided.

The Chairperson clarified that the definition of corporal punishment was already included in Section 1, sub-section C of the bill, with the DBE proposing an additional amendment related to restricting a child's use of the toilet. Mr Christians had proposed the removal of the entire section, including the proposed amendment. She highlighted Mr Ndlebe's advice regarding the alignment of the current section with Constitutional Court judgments, and called for input from Members on the matter.

Mr Fry expressed his satisfaction with the inclusion of the proposed amendments. Mr Poole echoed this sentiment, indicating his agreement. Mr Christians also voiced his support for the amendments.

The Chairperson affirmed her support for the proposed amendments. She inferred that Ms Harris might object because she favoured the clause without any amendments. To summarise, the definition of equality and equity from the FW de Klerk Foundation and the bullying definition from the CGE would be included. Micro schooling would be excluded, but noted for future consideration.

Regarding corporal punishment, Mr Christians had objected, while the regulation of online schooling, though raised as a comment due to ongoing consultations, would be recommended.

The Chairperson then sought the collective stance of the Committee on supporting or opposing Clause 1 with the proposed amendments.

Mr Fry expressed his support for Clause 1 with the proposed amendments. Mr Poole echoed this sentiment, indicating his agreement.

Mr Christians reiterated his support for everything except the corporal punishment aspect, ultimately opposing with an amendment.

Clause 5

Mr Fry recommended that Clause 5 be withdrawn or struck due to the vagueness of the concept of community. As an alternative, he proposed sub-section 6.6 of Section 6, sub-section 2 of the South African Schools Act, which empowers the governing body of a public school to determine the language policy, subject to constitutional provisions. He suggested including an appeals clause allowing parents to appeal decisions on language policy to higher authorities.

The Chairperson summarised Mr Fry's proposals -- to strike the clause as the main proposal, and alternatively, to seek clarification on the concept of community, maintain the current South African Schools Act with an expansion on language policy, and include an appeals clause.

Mr Christians expressed his support for Mr Fry's proposal, particularly emphasising the importance of the language policy and the appeals authority.

Mr Poole concurred.

The Chairperson summarised the discussion, expressing agreement with Mr Fry's proposals. She noted that the winning answer would be to strike the entire clause, with an alternative suggestion to seek clarification on the concept of community, expand on the language policy, and include an appeals process. She also mentioned that everyone was opposed, with alternative amendments for clauses 4 and 5.

Clause 6

Mr Fry, Mr Poole and Ms Harris expressed support for clause 6. However, Mr Christians said he did not support it, and believed it should be struck.

The Chairperson noted Mr Christians' position. She also expressed her personal support for clause 6, citing the absence of compulsory measures. With that, the vote on clause six was completed, and the discussion moved on to clause 7.

Clause 7

Mr Fry proposed amending Clause 7 to specify that exemptions should be granted only for religious, cultural, or medical reasons to prevent frivolous applications. Mr Poole and Mr Christians supported this proposal.

The Chairperson suggested opposing the clause if the proposed amendment was not accepted, which was agreed upon by the Members.

Clause 8

The Chairperson sought the views of the Members on removing the word "illegal" in the relevant areas of Section 8a of SASA.

Mr Poole expressed support for retaining the term "illegal drug" in proposed Section 8a, along with including a definition of "illegal drug" from the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act of 1992.

Mr Christians and Mr Fry agreed with this proposal.

The Chairperson also supported keeping the term "illegal," and suggested referencing the definition from the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act. Clarifying her position, she acknowledged that if she wanted to retain the term "illegal," she could not support the clause outright. Therefore, she indicated that she would oppose the clause with amendments to ensure the retention of the term "illegal." She sought confirmation from the Procedural Officer regarding the correctness of her wording.

Mr Ben Daza, Senior Procedural Officer, highlighted the procedural aspect, noting that there would not be another chance to address the bill clause by clause by the NCOP. Instead, the next vote would be for the entire bill during the final mandate stage. Therefore, he emphasised the importance of indicating the province's view on the entire bill, rather than on individual clauses.

The Chairperson emphasised the importance of negotiation during the negotiating mandate, noting that even if others might not want to engage in this process, negotiation remained the purpose. She clarified her stance, stating that she wanted the word "illegal" in the clause. She would not support the clause if the NCOP did not include this amendment. Therefore, she clarified that she opposed with amendments, as she might still support the clause if her requested amendment was included.

Mr Daza reiterated that during the final mandate stages, the Committee would need to decide on the overall bill, rather than individual clauses. While they might review the amendments agreed upon versus those not agreed upon, the process did not involve negotiation or clause-by-clause input at that stage.

The Chairperson reiterated her stance, explaining that she did not support the current amendment, and if it was not incorporated, she would not support the clause as a whole. Therefore, she clarified her position as being opposed with amendments.

Mr Christians summarised that based on what the Senior Procedural Officer had mentioned, during the final mandate stage, the Committee would likely be asked a single question -- whether they supported or did not support the bill overall. He inferred that since there were numerous clauses they disagreed with, they would simply state their opposition to the bill due to those clauses.

The Chairperson emphasised the importance of accurately expressing their views on each clause, regardless of whether they anticipated the NCOP would accommodate their requests. She stressed the need for transparency and clarity in their stance on individual clauses, acknowledging that their opinions might evolve, based on the NCOP's response, but emphasising the significance of their initial positions.

Clause 9

Mr Fry expressed his support for the clause, contingent upon an amendment that addresses cases involving serious misconduct, particularly those related to physical or sexual violence. He proposed the inclusion of a provision specifying that in such cases, learners should be suspended pending an investigation. He also suggested implementing a time limit for learners to provide reasons why the suspension should not be enforced, proposing a one-week period for this purpose. He emphasised the need for two separate clauses in the act to distinguish between different types of serious misconduct.

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Fry's proposal for amendments, and indicated a need for further consideration.

Mr Christians said he believed there were examples of serious misconduct, adding that he was uncertain about the differentiation between serious misconduct and other forms. He sought clarification on how to understand and determine serious misconduct, emphasising that it was unclear to him. He referred to Mr Fry's mention of serious misconduct, citing examples such as sexual assault and stabbing as clear instances.

In response, the Chairperson referred to Mr Fry's suggestion regarding the need for the DBE to include differentiation between various types of misconduct, including serious misconduct. She expressed uncertainty about whether Mr Fry should elaborate further, or if clarification was required.

Mr Christians reiterated his agreement with Mr Fry, highlighting the current vagueness surrounding the concept of serious misconduct. He questioned how to discern between serious and other forms of misconduct, expressing a desire to address this ambiguity.

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Christians' input, and indicated a need to review the matter. She directed a question to Mr Ndlebe regarding the DBE's ability and willingness to provide definitions and differentiation for various types of misconduct.

Mr Ndlebe confirmed the DBE's willingness to do so, and Mr Poole expressed his support for the initiative.

The Chairperson expressed gratitude for the support for Mr Fry's proposal, especially given Mr Ndlebe's indication of the DBE's willingness to include a differentiation of misconduct, notably serious misconduct. She noted Ms Harris's support for the clauses without amendment and directed attention to Clause 10.

Clause 10

She reiterated the content of Clause 10, which aimed to amend Section 10 of the SASA.

Mr Fry voiced his support for the clause, and was supported by Mr Poole.

However, Mr Christians disagreed, stating his lack of support for the clause.

The Chairperson asked if he wished to provide a reason or suggest an amendment.

Mr Christians declined, suggesting simply removing the clause.

The Chairperson noted her support for the record and reminded Ms Harris of her support as well.

Clause 11

Members supported the Clause unanimously.

Clause 12

Mr Fry expressed his support for the amendment proposed by the National Council for the Blind regarding the expansion of the specialised focus of public schools to include a specialised disability for learners with special education needs.

Other Members unanimously supported this proposal.

The Chairperson thanked everyone for their support, and acknowledged the value of the proposals submitted by the National Council for the Blind. She indicated her own support for the inclusion of these proposals in the bill, specifically endorsing Clause 12 with the suggested amendments. She clarified the technicality of Ms Harris's position, ensuring that the record accurately reflected support for the amendment from the National Council for the Blind.

She sought clarification from Ms Harris on her stance regarding the proposed amendment.

Ms Harris reiterated her support for the bill with all clauses as they are, as previously indicated.

The Chairperson sought to clarify the technicalities, confirming with Ms Harris that her stance had been accurately captured.

Ms Harris affirmed this.

The Chairperson proceeded to explain the procedural steps taken, noting that four Members supported the proposed amendment, while one opposed it. As the amendment was adopted, the full clause with the amendment was put forward. The Chairperson clarified that Ms Harris's opposition stemmed from her preference for the clause as it currently stands, without the proposed amendment.

Ms Harris affirmed her stance, emphasising her support for the clause without the amendment.

The Chairperson acknowledged the clarification and noted the procedural details for the record, ensuring that the stance of each Member was accurately reflected.

Clause 13

Mr Fry brought up the recommendation from the National Council for the Blind to amend Section 12A of the SASA, specifically regarding instances where two or more schools were merged to include learners with special education needs (LSEN), and specialist school mergers. He expressed his support for the proposed amendment.

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Fry's request to incorporate the proposal from the National Council of the Blind into the clauses. She then sought the opinion of the Members present online regarding this matter.

The Members expressed unanimous support for the amendments.

The Chairperson noted the support from all four Members for the amendment, with only Ms Harris opposing it, as she preferred the original clause to remain unchanged. Consequently, a vote would be taken on the clause with the amendment, with the record reflecting four Members in favour and Ms Harris opposed.

Clause 14

Mr Fry expressed his support for a particular clause, suggesting possible amendments. He proposed extending the duration to five years for him to act and speak on legal matters. Additionally, he recommended including language, stating that actions must be taken in consultation, and that opting into central procurement should be the default choice, rather than opting out. Despite these proposed changes, he affirmed his overall support for the clause.

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Fry's support and clarified his proposed amendments, ensuring that the clause would specify consultation for legal matters and allow schools to opt into central procurement, rather than opt out.

Members online unanimously agreed with these suggestions.

The Chairperson noted that the clause would be supported with amendments, including the comment about allowing schools to opt in, rather than opt out of central procurement. This approach would align with previous clauses regarding how amendments were formulated.

Clause 15

The Chairperson highlighted the proposed amendment, requesting schools to opt in and confirming her agreement with the proposed changes.

Mr Fry voiced his support for a particular aspect of the proposal, suggesting an amendment to enhance clarity regarding the powers of the Head of Department (HOD) to withdraw functions of school governing bodies (SGBs). He emphasised the necessity of clearly outlining the process to be followed when such functions were withdrawn, asserting that this detail would ensure effective implementation. He clarified that his proposed amendment aimed to elaborate on the HOD's powers in greater detail.

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Fry's amendment request, confirming that it entailed tasking the DBE with making the specified changes. She then sought the opinion of Members online.

Mr Poole expressed his support for the proposal.

Mr Christians initially hesitated, expressing uncertainty, but ultimately decided to support the proposal.

The Chairperson reassured Mr Christians that he did not have to support the proposal if he was not comfortable with it, emphasising the importance of expressing one's own thoughts and opinions freely.

Clause 16

Mr Poole indicated his support for the proposal with amendments. He requested clarification on the definition of "community" or, alternatively, the removal of the term if clarification was not provided. Additionally, he suggested drafting provisions to apply to any person with relevant expertise.

The Chairperson summarised Mr Poole's suggestions, noting the need for clarity on the term "community" and the drafting of provisions to apply to individuals with relevant expertise. She expressed her agreement with Mr Poole's proposal, and clarified that Ms Harris's vote would align with her previous indication regarding amendments and the clause.

Other Members unanimously agreed with Mr Poole's proposal.

Clause 17

Mr Fry expressed his opposition to the clause, citing concerns about the potential centralisation of power and intrusion into the provincial sphere. He recommended deleting the clause to avoid these issues.

Members online unanimously agreed with Mr Fry's opposition to the clause.

The Chairperson noted the consensus among Members to oppose the clause, with the exception of Ms Harris, who supported it. She clarified that there were four opposing votes, including hers, and one supporting vote from Ms Harris.

Clause 18

Mr Fry voiced his support for the clause.

Other Members online also expressed their support. The Chairperson affirmed her support for the clause, stating it for the record.

Clause 19

Mr Fry expressed his opposition to the decision to dissolve a school governing body, and suggested extending the appeal period. He argued that the current 14-day appeal period was unrealistic, and proposed extending it to at least 45 or 60 days.

The Chairperson sought clarification on whether Mr Fry preferred to specify a timeline, or simply request a longer period.

Mr Fry opted for a longer period without specifying a timeline.

Mr Poole supported the idea of a longer appeal period.

However, Mr Christians raised concerns about proposing too lengthy a period, suggesting that 60 days seemed excessive. He stressed the importance of finding a balance between an adequate appeal period and not excessively prolonging the process.

The Chairperson proposed consulting with the DBE and the WCED to determine an acceptable duration for the appeal period, suggesting 21 days as a possible option.

Mr Ndlebe highlighted the significance of consistency in the appeal period, particularly in response to feedback from SGB associations. He explained that the number of 14 days had been consistently used in department policies, and deviating from this standard could cause confusion within the education sector. He emphasised the importance of a prompt resolution of issues within the limited school year, cautioning against prolonging the appeal process to avoid disrupting school activities.

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Ndlebe's perspective, and noted that while some stakeholders advocated a longer appeal period, others preferred sticking to the standard 14-day timeframe. She proposed finding a balance between these views, suggesting a potential compromise of extending the period to 21 days.

Mr Ndlebe reiterated his support for maintaining the 14-day appeal period, citing strong sentiments from stakeholders who work closely with SGBs. He emphasised the importance of addressing issues promptly, as advocated by these stakeholders.

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Ndlebe's stance, and suggested that perhaps the stakeholders at the national level and those at the provincial level had different perspectives on the matter. She then asked the Members if they preferred to specify a timeline, or simply advocate for a longer period.

Mr Fry expressed his dilemma, acknowledging the difficulty in determining what constituted a reasonable timeframe. However, he agreed with Mr Christians' earlier point that 14 days was too short. He proposed extending the appeal period to 30 business days, equating to approximately six weeks or 30 school days, as a more suitable timeframe.

The Chairperson suggested parking Clause 19 temporarily, and returning to it after a short break.

Mr Christians expressed his uncertainty, considering the DBE stakeholders' preference for a 14-day appeal period. However, he suggested compromising with a 21-day period as a middle ground.

The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Christians' suggestion, and reiterated her willingness to negotiate on the timeframe. She noted that while some stakeholders may advocate for a 14-day period, others had requested a longer duration, based on the submissions received by the province.

She proposed parking Clause 19 and returning to it after the break to ensure a balanced approach.

Meeting to be resumed on Monday

She then sought procedural advice on whether to continue the discussion until 5 pm, or to conclude and resume on Monday morning. She proposed continuing the discussion on Monday morning from 8:00 to 10:00 am. She explained that they had already managed to cover 20 clauses within an hour and a half that afternoon, and with the submission tabling completed, they were likely to conclude the remaining clauses within the two-hour timeframe on Monday. However, she wanted to confirm with the Members if they had any prior commitments in their diaries for Monday morning.

Mr Poole mentioned a scheduling conflict, as he had another commitment at 9:00 am at the Western Cape Provincial Parliament's offices.

The Chairperson proposed meeting at 7:00 am on Monday, and holding the meeting virtually. Members unanimously agreed to this proposal.

The Chairperson then suggested pausing at Clause 19, and continuing the discussion on Monday morning at the agreed time. The Procedural Officer would arrange the scheduling accordingly.

She expressed gratitude to all the Members for their patience and continued commitment throughout the meeting. Further, she thanked the DBE and the WCED, expressing hope that they would be able to attend again on Monday.

The meeting was adjourned.


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