W Cape Act nar­rows gap be­tween schools in rich, poor com­mu­ni­ties

Cape Argus - - METRO -

I RE­FER to Mr Adiel Is­mail’s let­ter (Oc­to­ber 25), ac­cus­ing me of be­ing in­com­pe­tent.

Al­low me to give Mr Is­mail a les­son in law. We agree the Con­sti­tu­tion is the supreme law of our coun­try.

It is this very Con­sti­tu­tion, in Sched­ule 4, that pro­vides that na­tional AND pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment have CON­CUR­RENT leg­isla­tive com­pe­tence in re­spect of cer­tain mat­ters, one of which is “ed­u­ca­tion at all lev­els, ex­clud­ing ter­tiary”. This clearly in­cludes schools.

This same Con­sti­tu­tion, in s146, expressly states that in the event of a con­flict be­tween na­tional and pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion, pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion pre­vails, un­less cer­tain con­di­tions are met. We do not be­lieve these con­di­tions ap­ply to our bill.

His state­ments that the SA Schools Act (Sasa) is “the con­sti­tu­tion and supreme law for ed­u­ca­tion in our coun­try” and that all ed­u­ca­tion laws in the coun­try must com­ply with it, are in­cor­rect.

If this were the case, con­cur­rent com­pe­tence would have no mean­ing.

Not­with­stand­ing, the lawyers for both the depart­ment and the stand­ing com­mit­tee have come to the con­clu­sion that the Amend­ment Bill does not in fact con­tra­dict Sasa, as col­lab­o­ra­tion schools is a dif­fer­ent school model that is not pro­hib­ited, and that while Sasa reg­u­lates ed­u­ca­tion at the na­tional level, it does not ex­haus­tively cover the field of ed­u­ca­tion. In ad­di­tion, the ex­ist­ing W Cape Act pro­vides that the MEC can es­tab­lish any other type of school that is in the in­ter­ests of ed­u­ca­tion.

Mr Is­mail’s state­ment that the ob­jec­tive of sec­tion 23(9) of Sasa is to en­sure that the num­ber of par­ents at any pub­lic school rep­re­sent a ma­jor­ity of mem­bers on the gov­ern­ing body is also in­cor­rect.

To the con­trary, Sasa it­self pro­vides that for pub­lic schools for learn­ers with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion needs, a par­ent ma­jor­ity is not re­quired.

It is in­cor­rect that par­ents’ vot­ing power has been “re­moved” – they still vote for 50% of the gov­ern­ing body in this model, and any stale­mate is to be re­solved by a full par­ent meet­ing.

This bill con­tains in­no­va­tive means of ad­vanc­ing a learner’s con­sti­tu­tional right to ed­u­ca­tion and can also as­sist in nar­row­ing the gap be­tween schools in wealth­ier and poorer com­mu­ni­ties.

Op­po­si­tion to it as­tounds me. Com­par­isons drawn with the death penalty is ab­surd.

DEB­BIE SCHÄFER

Ed­u­ca­tion MEC

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