BELA will rob parents of their say in schools, warns Cape Forum

If the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (also known as the BELA Bill) is accepted in its current form, it will amount to a shameful stripping of parents’ say in their children’s school education in particular regarding schools’ language and admission policies. This is the opinion of the civil rights organisation Cape Forum, which submitted its written comments on this proposed legislation.

Cape Forum emphasises that although there is a crisis in education and it must be tackled, the BELA Bill is not a practical or realistic solution to this complex problem. The organisation therefore demands that the bill be withdrawn in its entirety and referred to the Department of Basic Education for thorough reconsideration so that the various critical problems with it and illegalities contained therein, as pointed out in Cape Forum’s written comments, can be tackled.

In its submission, the organisation demands, among other things, a detailed report of which public schools in the Western Cape have a functioning school governing body. This, believes Bernard Pieters, Manager of Community Activation at Cape Forum, will be able to provide the Department of Education in the Western Cape with a clear indication of the level of parental involvement in schools in this province. “School communities where parents are truly involved and where school governing bodies function efficiently and optimally will be hit the hardest by the intended act and disempower communities. Our experience is that many schools in the Western Cape definitely have active parent communities where parents, as part of governing bodies, play an essential role in the success of schools, but BELA will strip these successes away,” emphasises Pieters.

“Several provisions in the bill will seriously violate the democratic rights of communities and erode the functions of governing bodies. The government is also trying to repackage a dysfunctional system by taking power away from local communities. Centralisation has so far produced no success stories in the current government. It would be better to stop the process now and identify the real problems in the school system than to try to treat the symptoms with radical so-called solutions,” concludes Pieters.

Get involved today and help make a difference. Send an email to or join