The decision of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education to extend the period for written comments on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill, better known as the BELA Bill, has been widely welcomed.
The controversial Bill has borne the brunt of opposition from civil society organisations and political parties, since it was first published in 2017. The Bill proposes to amend the South African Schools and Employment of Educators Acts.
Changes include the lowering of compulsory school age, criminalizing of keeping children out of school, and permitting the ‘limited sale’ of alcohol at school functions. It further hopes to transfer the power to determine a school’s language, religious and admission policy from the school governing body to the provincial Head of Department.
Equal Education Law Centre along with the Section27 Center for Child Law, the Children’s Institute, and the Legal Resources are among those opposing the bill.
Citizens have until 15 August 2022 to submit comments.