National Assembly passes new controversial BELA Bill

The National Assembly (NA) announced the passing of the new Basic Education Laws Amendment Act (BELA) Bill, after MPs voted in favour of it on Tuesday, 14 May.

Also read: Equal Education appeals Western Cape school amendment act judgment

In a Department of Education statement, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga announced the new bill and said it was a watershed moment for the education sector.

‘I am glad to announce that the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill, known as the BELA Bill, has been passed in the National Assembly this morning,’ said Motshekga. ‘223 Members of Parliament from various political parties voted in favour of the bill, whereas 78 voted against it.’

She said the current version of the BELA Bill has been shaped by extensive consultations over the years to realise Basic Education 2.0.

‘The Bill addresses critical challenges that have, for years, hindered the progress of our education ecosystem,’ she added. ‘One of the primary issues it tackles is determining a school’s language policy.’

The Bill aims to guarantee that fair constitutional rights remain intact and that it places the responsibility of admissions in the hands of the SGBs.

‘We welcome the passing of the Bill and look forward to having it signed into law,’ concluded Motshekga.

According to IOL, eight provinces supported the amendments made to the bill after the National Assembly referred it to the NCOP for concurrence. Only the Western Cape rejected the amendments.

‘The Western Cape has to put the people and South Africans at large first by condemning this legislation for its far-reaching implications on the rights of parents, educators and learners,’ DA MP Cathlene Labuschagne said.

The DA rejected the over-centralisation of powers that stripped parents the rights of their authority over their children’s education.

‘The Western Cape remains committed to pursue education reforms that genuinely empower schools and communities, fostering quality education for all South Africans,’ she added.

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Picture: Element5 Digital / Unsplash

Words: Matthew Petersen / African Insider

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