Public consultations on new education laws already organised, public must participate, says FEDSAS about Parliament’s lack of urgency around awareness

21/02/2023 - Fedsas

Public consultations on the Education Laws Amendment Bill, or Bela, for two provinces, will take place soon – but there is no campaign to make the public aware of this. After extensive presentations to Parliament by several role-players last year, the portfolio committee on education decided that further public participation is required.

“Public consultations in Limpopo get underway this Friday (24 February 2023) without any clear or effective efforts to create awareness. FEDSAS had to submit an inquiry to obtain this information. It is extremely important that as many parents, guardians, and other role-players as possible participate in this process. Parliament’s lack of urgency in informing the public is not only disappointing but it also creates suspicion,” says Dr. Jaco Deacon, CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS). Last year FEDSAS made a comprehensive presentation to Parliament on Bela. Two of the proposed amendments give provincial education heads of departments the power to make a final decision on a school’s policy on admission and language. FEDSAS has pointed out that both these amendments go directly against the principle of cooperative governance on which the model for public schools was built.

FEDSAS also made several other proposals that, should it be included in the legislation, will go far in making school management more professional. “At the heart of this matter is the fact that public schools are built on a model of cooperative governance. A school community in the form of a governing body is supposed to manage a school within the legal framework with little interference from the State. The continued existence of this model, and with it parents’ input into their children’s education, is on the line.”

FEDSAS encourages parents and other role-players to attend public consultations in large numbers. “Consultations in Limpopo are taking place in three districts this weekend (24-26 February). Then it is the Free State’s turn from 3-5 March. Provisional dates for the other provinces are also available but have not been communicated to the public yet.” Deacon says given how important these public consultations are for maintaining and promoting quality education, FEDSAS will do everything in its power to create awareness about this on behalf of Parliament. “We are disappointed in the lack of awareness, especially since thousands of people submitted written commentary and given the media interest in this matter. However, FEDSAS has an extensive national footprint and the necessary networks to see to it that the information reaches our member schools and the public. Then it is in the hands of parents and the community to voice their concerns to ensure that they still have a say in their children’s education

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