Home Education Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill: Transforming the Future of Education

Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill: Transforming the Future of Education

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The Gauteng Department of Education’s placement period for the 2022 Online Admissions for Grades 1 and 8 will begin on Friday, 15 October and end on 30 November 2021. In a statement on Thursday, the department said it is important to note that parents and guardians will be sent SMSes, to the numbers they used to apply, with offers of placement.

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has recently approved the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, marking a significant milestone in the advancement of the basic education sector in South Africa.

 

After more than 20 years of development, the bill aims to align with the ongoing transformation agenda and address various crucial aspects of the education system.

One of the salient proposals adopted in the bill is the establishment of Grade R as the compulsory school-starting age. This move emphasizes the importance of early childhood education and sets the foundation for a solid educational journey. Additionally, the bill includes penalties for parents who fail to ensure their children’s regular attendance at school. This measure underscores the significance of education in shaping a brighter future for young learners.

Furthermore, the BELA Bill reinforces the ban on corporal punishment in schools and imposes penalties on individuals found guilty of such offenses. By reaffirming the commitment to a safe and nurturing learning environment, this amendment promotes the well-being of students and protects their rights.

During the voting process, the majority of committee members showed overwhelming support for the bill, highlighting its potential to transform the education landscape. However, it is worth noting that three members voted against its adoption, demonstrating the range of perspectives and opinions involved in shaping educational policies.

Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, the committee chairperson, emphasized the extensive deliberation that took place during the drafting of the bill. This comprehensive process ensured that proposed amendments were thoroughly examined, resulting in the removal of some clauses that were deemed unnecessary. The committee’s dedication to improving the education system for future generations was evident throughout this meticulous process.

To ensure inclusivity, the bill emphasizes the importance of language policies in public schools. Governing bodies are required to submit their language policies, as well as any amendments, to the Head of Department for approval. Recognizing the language needs of the broader community, this amendment strives to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students.

The amendment concerning home education elicited robust debates among committee members. Ultimately, it was agreed that a delegated official would conduct pre-registration site visits, though the visits could take place at the parents’ chosen location if they opted against having them at their homes. Additionally, a qualified educator or assessor is now required to provide a report at the end of each phase to demonstrate the learner’s competency.

While the BELA Bill includes several significant amendments, some proposals did not find support from the committee. The sale of alcohol on school premises after hours during functions was rejected, aligning with the committee’s commitment to maintaining a safe and appropriate educational environment. Similarly, the proposal for members of governing bodies to disclose their financial interests annually was deemed too burdensome administratively and was not supported.

With the approval of the committee, the BELA Bill and its report will now proceed to the National Assembly for debate and consideration.

 

This critical step brings South Africa closer to achieving the overarching goal of delivering quality education that upholds the rights of all learners as enshrined in the Constitution.

 


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