Prof’s view on proposed bill skewed
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. Panyaza Lesufi MEC for Education in Gauteng
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.