Statement by ACDP MP, Marie Sukers

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

NCOP’s passing of BELA Bill highlights ANC’s ignorance of duty

May 14, 2024

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) notes with disappointment the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) voting in favour of the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELA Bill). This flawed legislation will see an increase in the number of administrative jobs in the Department of Basic Education but will do nothing to address the many challenges in education. In short, it is more jobs for bureaucrats with less money for quality education.

This legislation will accelerate the closing of small farm schools in rural areas, forcing children to travel very early in the morning and return home much later in the afternoon, or place even see them placed in boarding schools far from home. Transport in rural areas has been a massive challenge – with provincial departments unable to provide sustainable long-term transport to farming communities. The burden often becomes the responsibility of grant-dependent parents in the long-term. Every case our Northern Cape constituency office has assisted with this term proves this to be the reality.

The Bill further imposes restrictions on homeschooling in a rigid education system with poor economic outcomes. The homeschooling community throughout the public participation process voiced their dismay at the lack of knowledge regarding the homeschooling sector by those who seek to regulate it. Every single proposal made by homeschoolers was ignored, and this showed the ignorance to duty by legislators occupying the ANC benches. Deliberations during the lawmaking process must take into consideration, and value, the inputs made by the public. The Gauteng Chairperson, Mr T Munyai, reportedly went as far as silencing children by not allowing them to make input in the public hearings. An egregious act that in effect silences children from participating in decisions that affects their lives.

Legislators have basically ignored the voices of the people, and instead showed their political allegiance to unions. The inclusion of Grade R in primary schools will have a negative impact on Early Childhood Development (ECD) entrepreneurs – majority of whom are previously disadvantaged women residing in our townships.

The current government claims that this Bill will mean greater access for disadvantaged learners and transform education in South Africa. The ACDP strongly disagrees and believes that the BELA Bill will do nothing to transform education for the betterment of children, parents, or school governing bodies. Rather, it will give the ANC the opportunity to reward their cadres in the unions by taking opportunities away from the Gogo Dhlaminis who with blood, sweat, and tears built ECD in our township economies.

The ACDP will continue to stand against this overreach by the State on parental rights and the blatant disregard for the democratic process of public participation.

South Africans must consider their choices carefully this election. The ANC must not be given a blank cheque to further pursue an agenda that maligns parents and gives control to the incapable State.

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