Afriforum calls on all who are serious about human rights to oppose Education Bill
21 March 2022
The availability of high quality education is a prerequisite for creating awareness about and maintaining human rights. On Human Rights Day 2022, AfriForum therefore calls on all people who are serious about education and human rights to oppose the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill.
According to Alana Bailey, AfriForum’s Head of Cultural Affairs, the periodic review of education legislation is necessary, and the bill contains positive provisions. The problem, however, is that it is being abused to cover up the ANC government’s hate campaign against Afrikaans schools. It inter alia 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.”
According to Bailey, the South African education system faces huge challenges. In Gauteng in particular, there are insufficient schools to meet the demand for placements. 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. Therefore, communities should retain the right to decide on admissions. The education department is simply neither competent nor benevolent enough to be entrusted with it.
Afrikaans children also have the right to mother-language education. This language right is internationally recognized 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 schools’ 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.