Education Amendment Bill: The biggest Public Education Reform package since 1994
It is a trite but vital statement that a child only has one opportunity to be in school. It is therefore crucial to ensure that every child has the best possible education that we can give them, or they miss out on it for life. I am therefore delighted that after more than two years, the Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill was passed by the Western Cape Provincial Parliament.
The Bill constitutes the biggest public education reform since 1994, and is designed to achieve excellence in education for every child, in every classroom, in every school in the Province, to open up opportunities for our youth, and to enable meaningful partnerships.
As the Western Cape Government, we have identified accountability, transparency and innovation as important attributes, and this Bill embodies all of these.
The Bill is innovative, in that it represents a real exercise of a province's concurrent legislative competence in basic education.
If we are to be at the forefront of education, it is important that we are open to innovative ways of delivering education, that we have effective and efficient ways of assessing how well schools are performing, and that we ensure measures are put in place to improve schooling where this is needed.
Therefore, in August 2016, I announced proposed amendments to the Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill.
The Draft Bill went out for public comment in August 2016 and the WCED received feedback from a number of organisations, interest groups, schools as well as members of the public.
The Standing Committee on Education also conducted public hearings on the bill across the province.
The Draft Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill, 2016 (the Draft Amendment Bill), proposed to amend the Western Cape Provincial School Education Act, 1997 (Act 12 of 1997).
The main focus areas of this Bill are:
- the establishment of an evaluation authority to be known as the Western Cape School Evaluation Authority (or "SEA");
- the specific provision for Collaboration Schools and Donor Funded Schools;
- the establishment of intervention facilities for learners who have been found guilty of serious misconduct, as an alternative to expulsion;
- the enabling of classroom observation, and;
- providing for an exception to the prohibition of alcohol on school premises, on application to the Head of Department, for adult events after hours.
In terms of the legislative process, the public participation period was concluded on the 24th August 2018.
Today the Amendment Bill was debated in the Provincial Parliament and passed by the House. The Provincial Parliament's processes going forward are as follows:
- Second Reading Debate on the Bill in Parliament;
- Bill passed by house
- Assent by Premier
- Publish as an Act.
Regulations will now be published for public comment.
As a Government, it is incumbent on us to take deliberate and measurable actions to ensure the provision of quality education for children and I firmly believe that each of the amendments to the Bill will have a positive impact on education outcomes in the Province.