Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation, on 29/06/2023


While public hearings on the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill continue nationally, it is no surprise that the majority of the comments received have voiced strong opposition to it. According to feedback reports provided to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, during the May hearings in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, around 49% of participants in Gauteng and 50% of speakers in KZN opposed the Bill.

In its submission to the Committee, the FW de Klerk Foundation expressed concern over the Bill’s centralisation of powers to the provincial education department, which would enable it to overrule a School Governing Body (SGB) on admission and language policies based on “equality” and “equity” – although these terms are not defined.

Both domestic law and court rulings hold that SGBs are best positioned as parents or guardians of school attendees and members of their local community, as this ensures “democratic school governance” and the taking of the community’s needs into account. The Foundation has pointed out that removing the SGBs’ ability to determine admission and language policies would lead to an erosion of language and culture rights, and could mean the end for model-C schools.

The Foundation, along with many other commentators, believes that SGBs are the appropriate, competent body to deal with matters relating to admission and language in public schools. To vest power in the State would lead to a complete erosion of language rights, as protected by Section 6 of the Constitution.

Track the BELA Bill as it moves through Parliament here and, should you feel strongly about this issue, make your voice heard at the next phase of public participation.