The Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill – Published in the Government Gazette on 06 December 2021

2022, Articles, Children, COVID-19, News

Article by Savera Singh (Candidate Attorney)
Checked and released by Jordan Dias (Senior Associate)
01 August 2022

THE BASIC EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL

The Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (“the Bill”), which was presented in Parliament on 10 January 2022, seeks to amend, inter alia, the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 by introducing new regulations around schools in South Africa.

In an effort to enhance the public schooling system, the following, most notable, issues are addressed in terms of the Bill:

  1. the definition “basic education” means grade R To grade 12, as evidenced in the National Curriculum Statement;
  2. corporal punishment” means any deliberate act against a child that inflicts pain or physical discomfort, however light, to punish or contain the child, which includes, but is not limited to:

(a) Hitting, smacking, slapping, pinching, or scratching with the hand or any object;
(b) Kicking, shaking, throwing, throwing objects at, burning, scalding, biting, puling hair, boxing ears, pulling, or pushing children; and
(c) Forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, forced ingestion, washing children’s mouths out with soap, denying meals, heat, and shelter, forcing a child to do exercise, or denying or restricting a child’s use of the toilet;

  1. the insertion of a definition for “home education” which seeks to explain what home education entails and to distinguish it from school attendance;
  2. subject to the Bill, and any applicable provincial law, every parent must cause every learner for whom he/she is responsible to attend a school starting from Grade R;
  3. the addition of subsection 7 which states that any person who unlawfully and intentionally interrupts, disturbs or hinders any school activity or hinders or obstructs any school in the performance of the school’s activities is guilty of an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months or to both and fine and imprisonment.
  4. section 42 was amended to encompass the following provision which provides that a Governing Body of a public school must keep records of all investments, donations and funds received and spent by the public school and of its assets, liabilities and financial transactions as well as being required to, as soon as practicable, but not later than 3 months after the end of each financial year, draw up annual financial statements reflecting all investments, donations or funds received and spent by the public school in accordance with the guidelines determined by the number of the Executive Council;
  5. educators, the Principal and the SGB, as parentis in loco, must take responsibility and accountability for learners who are within their school community by ascertaining the whereabouts of a learner who absents himself or herself from school for a period of more than 3 days without valid reason; and
  6. the criminalisation of anyone, including parents/caregivers, who prevent their children from attending school or participating in the interruption of school activities The Bill proposes an increase in jail time from six to 12 months for parents or caregivers, or any other individual, who prevents a child, who is within the age bracket of compulsory school attendance, from attending school without a valid reason. If convicted, a person may be duly reprimanded.

VALUE

A high-level overview of amendments which were made to the South African Schools Act of 1996 which was inclusive of insertions and amendments of various definitions, provisions and ramifications following non-compliances in relation to the same.

Jordan Dias
SENIOR ASSOCIATE
Savera Singh
CANDIDATE ATTORNEY
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