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AfriForum calls on all who are ‘serious about human rights’ to oppose Education Bill


Advocacy group, AfriForum, is calling on communities to oppose the Education Bill which they say is being abused to cover up the government’s hate campaign against Afrikaans schools.

Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

ADVOCACY group AfriForum is calling on communities to oppose the Education Bill which they say is being abused to cover up the current government’s hate campaign against Afrikaans schools.

AfriForum’s head of cultural affairs, Alana Bailey, said the periodic review of education legislation was necessary, and although the Bill contains positive provisions, there are issues.

Baily said the bill proposes that the right to make final decisions on admissions and the language policy of schools should be taken away from school governing bodies and be left in the hands of government officials.

“As a result, the power-hungry, inept state will gain even more power at the cost of communities’ right to make decisions pertaining to their schools,” she said.

AfriForum believes that the South African education system faces huge challenges.

Citing schools in Gauteng, Bailey said there are insufficient schools to meet the demand for placements.

She added that according to figures obtained from the Department of Basic Education and the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas), 9.09% of the country’s public schools are in Gauteng, while 17.53% of the country’s learners live in the province. “The numbers increase annually, and instead of ensuring that more schools are built, pressure is placed on Afrikaans schools to anglicise.

“The province’s flawed online registration system not only leads to frustration, but is already manipulating the placements of learners. It is only because of the ongoing involvement of schools and governing bodies that the placements do not derail even further,” Bailey said.

She said that communities should, therefore, retain the right to decide on admissions. The education department is simply neither competent nor benevolent enough to be entrusted with it, she said.

She explained that Afrikaans children also have the right to mother-language education.

“This language right is internationally recognised as a basic human right. International and local research has already unequivocally proven that mother-language education is only sustainable if it is offered in single-medium institutions. In other institutions, stronger languages, such as English in the case of South Africa, will eventually displace all other languages as a medium of instruction. For this reason, local communities have to retain the right to decide on their school’s language policy.

“More mother-language options must be created for South African learners, but this cannot be done at the expense of the language rights that the Afrikaans language community already has. The human rights of one community cannot be promoted by depriving another community of that right,” Bailey said.

She said Afrikaans parents are a loyal school community that invests a lot of resources in public schools. In order to retain the rights they currently enjoy by means of elected governing bodies, it is imperative that a strong stance be taken against the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill. The bill is not ready for public comments yet, but AfriForum will monitor the process and keep the public informed.

Meanwhile an online petition has been launched by AfriForum to garner support against the bill. It has already been signed by thousands of people and is available at www.redafrikaans.co.za.


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