Basic Education Deputy Minister Enver Surty said while his department has made strides, more public participation is needed on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill.
We are not going to curtail public participation, we will instead encourage it because we want to hear what people have to say, said Minister Surty.
On Wednesday, the Minister briefed the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on progress made in noting concerns of ordinary South Africans regarding the Bill.
In 2013, the Minister had appointed a Task Team to review the Basic Education legislation. The team consisted of DBE legal officials and representatives from legal units of the Western Cape, Gauteng, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal Education departments.
It is this review that informed the need for changes to the legislation.
The Bill contains amendments to the South African Schools Act and the Employment of Educators Act. It seeks to amend clauses that affect school admission, language policy, role of school governing bodies' compulsory attendance at school and the power of the head of department.
Inputs received thus far from members of the public are being processed and would inform the next step the department would take.
The process is still at an early stage and will come to Parliament for further consultation, deliberation, and persuasion. Change is difficult and the department is aware of that but that engagement is also important.
He said however there had been Constitutional Court cases in the Basic Education sector that the amendments sought to affirm in terms of the locus of authority. The Deputy Minister said there was a legal, moral and historical context to the amendments.
Addressing the Portfolio Committee, Deputy Minister Surty said the department had committed to canvassing diverse input through an inclusive process.
The Minister was accompanied by the Director General Mathanzima-Mweli who told the committee that the department was pleased with the responses received.
Portfolio Committee Chairperson Nomalungelo Gina said the bill had received such huge interest, that the committee was also considering holding public hearings on the amendments based in the huge interest the bill has attracted.
He said there were 46 clauses in the bill and the majority of them were not contentious. The rationale of the amendments is to clarify certain provisions that up to now create confusion.
Source: South African Government News Agency