Prof’s view on pro­posed bill skewed

The Star Early Edition - - LETTTERS - Panyaza Le­sufi

I AM hugely dis­ap­pointed with the piece coined by Prof Ge­orge Devenish (The Star, School Bill goes against con­sti­tu­tion, Novem­ber 14) a per­son I had an op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with dur­ing those dark days of apartheid at the then Univer­sity of Natal, Dur­ban.

His as­ser­tion that the pro­posed changes con­tained in the Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Laws Amend­ment Bill are un­con­sti­tu­tional baf­fles me. What is un­con­sti­tu­tional to be taught in our home lan­guages? What is un­con­sti­tu­tional to pro­pose that those in charge of pub­lic funds de­clare their pri­vate in­ter­ests to com­bat cor­rup­tion? What is also un­con­sti­tu­tional to pro­pose that ad­mis­sions of pupils and ap­point­ment of prin­ci­pals be han­dled by the de­part­ment. For the record, al­ready there’s no SGB that has the power to ap­point a prin­ci­pal. That right is with the head of the de­part­ment.

Sec­tion 20 (1)(i) of the South African Schools Act, as amended cor­rectly, states that the SGB must rec­om­mend to the head of de­part­ment the ap­point­ment of the teachers sub­ject to the pre­scripts of the Em­ploy­ment of Ed­u­ca­tors Act.

So, the de­part­ment is re­spon­si­ble for the ap­point­ment of school prin­ci­pals as per the cur­rent leg­is­la­tion. Why the fuss?

The pro­pos­als are mainly to re­move a com­po­nent of rec­om­mend­ing to the de­part­ment. So this swart gevaar that pow­ers of SGBs are un­der threat is base­less. They never had the power to ap­point prin­ci­pals, pe­riod! They, SGBs, never had ab­so­lute rights to ad­mis­sions and lan­guage. So the changes are not nec­es­sar­ily dras­tic or dra­co­nian.

I have a feel­ing, now that Devenish has re­tired, that re­tire­ment may not be good for our beloved prof.

I refuse to agree that the Prof Devenish I know, will at­tach his name to a piece that wants to main­tain the sta­tus quo; that the ed­u­ca­tion of the few and priv­i­leged is more im­por­tant than that of the ma­jor­ity whose par­ents went through gut­ter ed­u­ca­tion.

I am re­luc­tant to ac­cept or be­lieve that the hon­oured prof has even read the pro­posed amend­ments or he just re­sponded on the ba­sis of news­pa­per head­lines or lis­tened to par­ent bod­ies whose man­date to­wards pro­tect­ing the priv­i­leges of the few is well-doc­u­mented. The pro­posed amend­ments stand for a non-racial ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem where all our chil­dren will be treated equally with dig­nity. What’s un­con­sti­tu­tional with this com­mit­ment? Should our peo­ple be re­fused to at­tend a school next door be­cause it only teaches in Afrikaans while the de­mo­graph­ics around the school have changed?

I want the prof to en­joy his re­tire­ment rather than em­bar­rass him­self with base­less and non-co­her­ent ar­gu­ments to pro­tect the in­ter­ests of apartheid ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

You may have op­pressed our par­ents and grand­par­ents by deny­ing us qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, but you will never suc­ceed in ex­tend­ing this pain to our chil­dren or chil­dren’s chil­dren. It ends here. It ends now.

I urge our na­tional min­is­ter to ig­nore the haters of trans­for­ma­tion who think they have a birthright to op­press us!

All our schools be­long to all our chil­dren and there’s no one who has the right to dic­tate to our peo­ple who must teach their chil­dren and where.

We paid a heavy price for this free­dom, even if haters of trans­for­ma­tion can con­sole them­selves and claim they own the right to tell us how to fur­ther op­press, we will not sur­ren­der our hard­fought free­dom to be en­joyed by them alone. MEC for Gaut­eng Ed­u­ca­tion in


SHAP­ING LIVES: Hus­sain Mol­lagee takes an English class us­ing the Cot­ton Candy, an ex­per­i­men­tal teach­ing aid, at Ned Do­man High. The writer says there’s noth­ing un­con­sti­tu­tional in pro­posed amend­ments to ed­u­ca­tion bill.

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