Solidarity will not tolerate the capture of schools

Solidarity will take legal action if the ANC government continues to steamroller the planned BELA legislation with the support of the EFF.

This comes after both parties at a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education to discuss the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill demanded that school governing bodies be stripped of their powers.

“The ruling party is clearly trying to capture South African schools,” Johnell van Vollenhoven, policy analyst at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI) said.

“The South African Schools Act clearly states that parents are the ones having the greatest interest in the education of a child. This planned legislation is therefore nothing but an attempt to deprive people of their rights as parents, of minority’s rights and of the right to receive education in the language of one’s choice.”

According to Van Vollenhoven, statements made during this week’s portfolio committee sessions emphasised the BELA legislation’s sinister goals. ANC and EFF MPs in the committee said among other things that education departments, and not governing bodies, should be able to decide on the language and admissions policy of the approximately 23 000 public schools from now on.

They claim that this legislation aims to eradicate racism in schools, while it will indeed target parents’ say in their children’s education, and Afrikaans as language of instruction.

“In fact, only the schools with functional governing bodies shine like lanterns in an otherwise dark landscape of education failure. These are the schools, and specifically strong Afrikaans schools, that are targeted by this.

“Afrikaans is being turned into the scapegoat so that the government can mask its own education fiasco. This is another race-obsessed way that is presented as a solution to yet another self-imposed state crisis,” Van Vollenhoven said.

In November 2022 Solidarity made a presentation to parliament and has fully participated in public consultation processes.

According to Johan Botha, head of Solidarity’s Teachers’ Network, the legislation runs counter to the aims of democracy.

“The intention of the Constitution is precisely that public schools should function with greater autonomy and that communities should assume the responsibility for the management of schools. By failing to meet its obligations to build enough schools, or by providing sufficient resources and support to schools the government has proven itself as incompetent. Instead of the government fulfilling these responsibilities, it wants to deprive parents and governing bodies of their rights,” Botha said.

The attack on language policies can therefore also be seen as an attack on mother tongue education, as well as an attack on our children’s future. It can be anticipated that imperative anglicisation and more state ideology in curricula would be the logical consequence of this legislation.

Solidarity will not hesitate to take legal action should this amendment bill be passed.