Proposed education legislation amounts to “school capture”, says FEDSAS

The type of state control that goes against everything a democracy stands for.

This is the opinion of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) regarding the proposed Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill. The Amendment Bill was recently published and is aimed at limiting certain functions of school governing bodies, including being able to make recommendations about certain appointments, admission and language policies as well as certain financial functions.

“This Amendment Bill takes us back to a model where the state controls everything. It goes against the spirit of the South African Schools’ Act, which provides for public schools and not state schools,” says Dr Jaco Deacon, Deputy CEO of FEDSAS.

Deacon says people have until 10 November this year to comment on the Amendment Bill. FEDSAS encourages all education role-players to comment. A copy of the Amendment Bill is available on the FEDSAS website at www.fedsas.org.za under the link “What is new?”

“Parents should take note of the fact that the proposed Bill places a limitation on the right of parents to make decisions about their children’s education. In essence, it is a violation of the Constitution as school governing bodies enable parents to be involved in decision-making.”

Deacon says it is of paramount importance that parents are involved in formal school governance structures. “If governing bodies do not function properly or if parents and other education role-players are not involved in these structures it strengthens the claim made with this Bill.”

The Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill proposes, among others, that governing bodies play no role in the appointment of school-level heads of department, deputy principals and principals. Currently a school’s governing body makes a recommendation about these appointments. Other functions targeted by the Amendment Bill include admission and language policies as well as certain financial functions.

Deacon compares the Amendment Bill to the controversial E-toll system. “If the serious shortcomings in the proposed Bill are not pointed out and changed we will, as with the E-toll system, spend millions on reactive court cases and other actions. Now we have the opportunity to be proactive. However, this can only happen if all education role-players commit, comment and create awareness about the implications.”

FEDSAS is a leading role-player in the field of school governance and the organisation’s legal team analysed the proposed Bill in detail. “It is the opinion of FEDSAS that this Amendment Bill is an effort to capture the South African education system and we simply cannot allow this.”

FEDSAS has already launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #StopSchoolCapture.

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