Amendments to Schools Act do not prioritise quality education; teachers’ and parents’ rights restricted

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Trade union Solidarity today launched a campaign, #ForSchools, to encourage the public to give their input on the Schools Act Amendment Bill. This amendment bill announced by the Minister of Basic Education on 13 October contains extremely worrying clauses that in practice would severely limit the rights of inter alia parents, teachers and governing bodies, and it will place schools totally under control of the state.

According to SRI Head Connie Mulder, it is perturbing to learn that should the amendment bill be accepted, governing bodies will no longer have a say in the appointment of teachers as the appointment process will in future be subject to the regulations and prescriptions established by the Minister in order to promote social and economic transformation at all costs. “Instead of quality education, affirmative action and representivity will head the list of regulations when any appointments or promotions are considered. This level of state interference is a particular threat to quality education,” Mulder said.

According to Mulder, the Department of Education will have the final say when it comes to the school where children will be placed.  “The Head of the Education Department will be able to decide on learners’ placement at schools, which will influence class sizes and the language composition of the school. The governing body will no longer be permitted to make decisions regarding a school’s language of instruction, capacity and admissions,” Mulder explained.

Solidarity is launching a campaign in which the public is urged to comment in their masses on this amendment bill. “Basic education in South Africa is already in a state of decay. If this bill is approved, Solidarity will be ready to fight it.  This bill has the potential to plunge the entire system and the few remaining successful schools into extremely turbid waters. We cannot allow this to happen,” Mulder said.