From the news desk

Education expert explains BELA Bill

Share this article

By Lee-Yandra Paulsen

The Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill is currently open for public comment, inviting individuals to share their views and concerns. However, the bill has sparked fears among many, with messages circulating that suggest the possible imprisonment of parents and raises questions about the bill’s intention to restrict School Governing Bodies.

Education Expert Professor Mary Metcalf spoke to VOC Breakfast about the BELA bill. “The Bill has many aims, and it has been in the process of development for some years. It is just learning from experience, learning from new challenges, and trying to clarify the legal framework for education,” said Prof. Metcalf.

Metcalf said the public first needs to understand the need for compulsory education and why it is important. Compulsory education is a part of the United Nations joint commitments of all countries, this is to ensure children receive the education they need in order to be productive citizens. She further said compulsory education is not new, as it is important for all children to have the right to school.

The Professor said that education must have defined limits when made compulsory. The BELA bill proposes that education becomes compulsory from grade R, with compulsory education ending either at grade nine or the age of 16. After grade nine or the age of 16, there is no legal obligation for children to continue attending school. However, it is crucial to encourage continued education as it provides learners with essential opportunities for growth and participation. Parents play a key role in ensuring their child’s enrolment and regular attendance, as outlined in the South African Schools Act since 1996.

“If your child cannot find a place then I would say the obligation shifts to the state because just as much as we as a country can agree that children must go to school, it therefore means that the state has an obligation to make sure that there is place for them at a school that they can reach,” she said.

According to Metcalf the existing laws and amendments provide parents with the power to influence the language of instruction at schools through the school governing body. The BELA bill does not impose any restrictions on the authority of school governing bodies. These bodies play a vital role in fostering a strong connection between schools and the community, ensuring that parents’ voices are heard.

VOC News


Share this article
WhatsApp WhatsApp us
Wait a sec, saving restore vars.