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BELA Bill hits yet another snag – thousands of public submissions still not processed

The controversial Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill hit yet another snag today due to numerous unprocessed public submissions.

Last week, it led to a heated argument between those for and those against the Bill, and the submissions still have not been processed.

The chairperson, Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigraba, subsequently adjourned the meeting until next week Tuesday on recommendation of Parliament’s legal advisors.

When public participation is required, it is not merely a formality, the aim is to incorporate ordinary people’s insights into the legislative process.

There is a chance of clear directive proposals coming from among the thousands of unprocessed submissions. It could also influence the question of whether the majority of participants support the Bill or not.

At the moment, from the perspective of those supporting the Bill, it seems to be a case of the more haste, the less speed.

The processes that must be followed before the President can sign the law determine that the current committee phase should have been concluded before the end of August. However, this can now only happen by 5 September, at the earliest.

The strongest objection to the Bill remains the centralisation of decision-making regarding a school’s language and admission policy from the school governing body to the provincial Head of Department.

Home-schools are also concerned that certain provisions may enable a power-hungry department to harm home education.

In the FF Plus’s view, it would be best to draft an entirely new bill. The educational landscape has changed fundamentally since 2017, when this Bill was first drafted.

In addition, education must also be recognised and reinforced as a community function.

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