Provincial Cabinet Approves Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill
I am pleased to announce that the Provincial Cabinet has approved the referral of the Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill to the provincial legislature for processing.
This follows a period of public comment and an extensive consultation process with school governing body organisations, the educator unions, school principals, as well as representatives from higher education organisations.
The input received from these groups has been carefully considered and where appropriate incorporated into the bill that will now be referred to the legislature. The legislative process will include opportunity for further public comment. I look forward to a robust and constructive debate on the bill.
This is a significant piece of legislation for the future of education in the Western Cape. The need to amend the existing Provincial Act was occasioned by a range of factors.
These include the following:
- Strong need for greater emphasis on quality outcomes and accountability along with rights.
- Existing legislation was promulgated on 9 December 1997 and has never been changed since.
- The national equivalent has been amended eight times since then (and number nine is the pipeline).
- New national concepts needed incorporation.
- Need for more appropriate use of regulation.
Therefore different categories of amendments have been included in the Bill.
- Those that update the legislation in line with amendments at national level.
- Those that strengthen the ability of the WCED to monitor performance.
- Those that strengthen the capacity of the WCED to deliver quality outcomes.
- Miscellaneous items.
The amended preamble of the Bill encapsulates the overriding objectives of the bill:
"Whereas, to this end, it is essential that all learners have access to the highest quality of basic education that the province can provide and which will uphold the principles and values of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, particularly the rights of children, while requiring the highest standards of accountability from these learners, their parents, school governing bodies, educators and officials."
Provisions that strengthen the ability of the WCED to monitor performance:
S3 (1) - additional principles for formulation of policy:
- Equitable education opportunities
- Respect for teaching and learning
- Monitoring, evaluation and training
S7 (g) - rule making function of the Head of Department (HOD) in relation to education and training programmes/examinations:
- Management and conduct of school bases assessments
- Quality assurance of national, provincial or school based assessments
S9 - authorisation to visit and assess a school
- Evaluating performance in accordance with national and provincial norms and standards
- Monitoring of compliance with national and provincial norms and standards.
S63 - making of regulations by the Provincial Minister
- Effective performance evaluation of schools, educators and learners
- Performance agreements for principals, deputy principals and office based educators
- Minimum teaching hours per school week and school day
- Declaration of personal interest by School Governing Body (SGB) members in procurement
- Discipline, suspension and expulsion of learners
- Visitation and assessment of schools
- Norms and standards for basic infrastructure and capacity in public schools
Sections that strengthen the capacity of the WCED to deliver quality outcomes:
S12b - identification of and steps to be taken to correct underperformance of learners, management/governance and safety of learners/staff.
- Application of incapacity code and procedures for poor work in the Employment of Educators' Act
- Limiting functions of SGBs that fail to fulfill their legal obligations and responsibilities.
- Appointment of academic mentor or substitute principal
S45A - prohibition of dangerous objects - search and seizure procedures and testing for illegal substances
S45B - no initiation practices and no political activities during school time on school premises.
I am confident that the legislative process will be concluded in October this year and that these sections as well as a range of other inclusions in the Bill will help the provincial government deliver on its overriding objectives of improving learner outcomes, increasing levels of accountability, eradicating underperforming schools and of putting the rights of learners to a quality basic education first.
Minister of Education, Donald Grant
Tel: 021 467 2377
Cell: 072 724 1422