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Draft Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill Released for Comment

October 26, 2017

Department of Basic Education

A draft bill that seeks to increase the penalty from six months to six years imprisonment for parents that prevent their children from attending school has been published for comment.

The Draft Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill was published in Government Gazette 41178.

The proposed legislation aims to amend the South African Schools Act (SASA) and the Employment of Educators Act (EEA) in order to align them with developments in the education sector.

The draft bill also intends ensuring that systems of learning and excellence in education are put in place in a way that “respects, protects, promotes and fulfils the right to basic education” as enshrined in the constitution.

Cabinet approved the draft bill at the end of August 2017.

In the cabinet statement, the draft bill was described as “the outcome of the review of all basic education legislation with a view to enhancing organisational efficiency so as to improve school governance, leadership and accountability, transforming education services, and protecting vulnerable groups to ensure the well-being of learners.”

The draft bill also seeks to amend the SASA in order to, inter alia, make it an offence for people to disrupt or interrupt any school activity or to hinder or obstruct any school in the performance of the school’s activities, provide the head of department with the final authority to admit a learner to a public school, provide for a governing body to submit the language policy of a public school to the head of department for approval, empower the basic education minister to appoint outside agencies or persons to advise the minister on matters relating to a national curriculum statement and a national process and procedures for the assessment of learner achievement, provide that a school’s code of conduct must take into account the diverse cultural beliefs and religious observances of the learners at the school, provide for the prohibition of liquor and prohibited substances on school premises, limit the powers of a governing body in regard to recommending candidates for appointment and provide for dispute resolution mechanisms in the event of any dispute between the head of department and a governing body.

Amendments are proposed to the EEA to, inter alia, provide for a limitation on the post levels for which the governing body may recommend candidates to the head of department, prohibit teachers from conducting business with the state, require teachers to disclose their financial interests to the head of department and extend the powers of the minister to make regulations on norms and standards for district staffing.

Comments are invited until 10 November 2017.