Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, will meet with stakeholders this week regarding the proposed Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill.
The bill – which was first announced in 2017 – seeks to provide updated amendments to sections of the South African Schools Act.
- A possible prison sentence in a case where the parent of a learner, or any other person, prevents a learner who is subject to compulsory school attendance from attending school;
- The head of department will now have the final authority to admit a learner to a public school;
- Schools are now required to draft and submit a language policy for approval;
- New admissions regulations;
- New rules around the appointment of teachers;
- Random search and seizure of learners;
- The term and criteria for school governing body members.
While Motshekga did not specify what changes have been made since the bill’s introduction three years ago, the original draft legislation also sought to further regulate homeschooling in South Africa.
This includes a possible prison sentence for not registering your home-schooled child with the Department of Education and strict requirements around what curriculum they may be taught.
“The legislation should not be a stumbling block. However, it should rather be viewed as a necessary tool to assist the sector to deal with some of the challenges at schools,” said Motshekga.
“The state has overall responsibility over children. There must be initial registration for learners who are educated at home in order for us to know how many learners in the system fall within home education,” she said.
The minister said she will meet with other relevant stakeholders and teacher unions before tabling the bill in parliament.
Early Childhood Development
The new BELA bill is set to coincide with the government’s plans to introduce a two-year compulsory Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme before starting Grade 1.
Motshekga has previously said that the compulsory ECD will help improve the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy.
“To achieve that goal, we need to urgently proceed with the implementation of the two-years of ECD before Grade 1 and the systematic relocation of the responsibility for ECD from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Basic Education,” she said.
“The Department of Basic Education is working closely with the Department of Social Development and other partners to oversee the migration, and proceed with the process towards two years of compulsory ECD for all children before they enter Grade 1.”
This article has been updated to more accurately reflect the punishment for the non-registration of homeschooling.