The Cape Navigator

Seaside Community Newspaper

Cape Town, South Africa

BELA Bill Threatens Parental Rights in Western Cape Schools, Warns Cape Forum

Michael Hawthorne

SOUTH AFRICA – The Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELA Bill) has come under intense scrutiny from Cape Forum, a civil rights organization, as it warns that if accepted in its current form, the legislation will undermine parents’ influence in their children’s education, particularly concerning language and admission policies in schools.

In a media statement released today, Cape Forum expressed concern over the potential ramifications of the BELA Bill, arguing that it could result in a regrettable stripping away of parents’ say in crucial matters related to their children’s schooling. The organization submitted detailed written comments on the proposed legislation, outlining various issues and illegalities it believes are embedded within the bill.

While acknowledging the existing crisis in the education system that needs addressing, Cape Forum firmly asserted that the BELA Bill is neither a practical nor realistic solution to the complex problems facing the sector. The organization is now demanding the complete withdrawal of the bill, urging that it be sent back to the Department of Basic Education for thorough reconsideration.

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Among the key concerns raised by Cape Forum is the potential impact on functioning school governing bodies in the Western Cape. The organization has called for a detailed report outlining which public schools in the province currently have operational governing bodies. Bernard Pieters, Manager of Community Activation at Cape Forum, believes such a report would provide the Department of Education in the Western Cape with a clear understanding of the level of parental involvement in schools.

Pieters emphasized, “School communities with active parent participation and efficient governing bodies will be disproportionately affected by the proposed act, disempowering these communities. BELA threatens to strip away the successes achieved through active parent engagement, a vital component in the success of schools.”

Cape Forum contends that several provisions within the BELA Bill could potentially violate democratic rights and erode the functions of school governing bodies. The organization accuses the government of attempting to centralize power, arguing that such an approach has not yielded success in the past.

Pieters concluded, “The government’s attempt to address the issues in the school system by taking power away from local communities is misguided. Centralization has not proven effective, and it would be more prudent to halt the process now and identify the real problems within the education system, rather than attempting to treat symptoms with radical so-called solutions.”

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