Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says all schools in South Africa belong to all races.
Earlier, the MEC held a media briefing to address concerns surrounding the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill.
The so-called BELA Bill seeks to amend the South African Schools Act and address a variety of issues including the language policy at schools, home education, and alcohol use at school premises among others.
Members of the Democratic Alliance (DA) led by the party’s Federal Council Chair, Helen Zille, held a protest outside Lesufi’s offices in central Johannesburg to express their disapproval of the Bill.
The DA says under the Bill, which they describe as discriminatory, the head of provincial education departments and MECs will ultimately decide what language is taught at schools and who is admitted to the school.
Lesufi says the DA has been falsely declaring to the public that the BELA Bill seeks to attack Afrikaans and mother tongue education.
“Go to Menlo Hoerskool (Die Hoërskool Menlopark) in Pretoria…you go there during a sporting activity you might think it’s not even South Africa, you might think it’s Orania where other people can’t be in that particular school. Should we fold our arms because we are scared of the DA (when) they say don’t touch our schools? We reject that, these schools belong to all our children. There might be where you stay there is an Afrikaner school closer to you, but you can’t go there, it can’t be. That school belong to all of us, and it must admit all our children…because you have a certain colour of skin, they think the school belong to them alone? We must reject that and I’m unapologetic about that aspect.”
In the video tweet below, Lesufi clarifies his stance on equal education access for all:
WATCH: @EducationGP1 MEC @Lesufi clarified his stance on equal education access for all children, as envisaged by the Constitution of South Africa and the draft BELA Bill. He added that language should not be used to constitute indirect discrimination at schools based on race. pic.twitter.com/w9RknRjDhe
— Gauteng Department of Education (@EducationGP1) July 5, 2022
Meanwhile, Gauteng Education Spokesperson Steve Mabona clarifies the aim of the Bill.
“The DA has been falsely declaring to the public that the BELA Bill seeks to attack Afrikaans and mother tongue education. Accordingly, the BELA Bill seeks to Amend the SASA (South African Schools Act) aligning it with the ongoing development in the South African Education landscape to ensure that the systems of learning and excellence in education are put in place.”