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4 July, 2017
Cabinet Approves Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill.
Statement by Minister Debbie Schäfer, Minister of Education
I am pleased to announce that the Western Cape Cabinet has approved the submission of the Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill. The Bill will now proceed to the Legislature following Cabinet's approval last week.
In August 2016, I announced proposed amendments to the Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill. I believe that these amendments will provide enabling mechanisms to help develop a sustainable system with a strategic objective to enhance learner achievement and promote educational outcomes in the Western Cape.
As a provincial government we have identified accountability, transparency and innovation as important attributes, and our legislation also needs to reflect this.
The Draft Bill has been out for public comment since August 2016 and feedback has been provided by a number of organisations as well as members of the public.
The Draft Amendment Bill proposes to amend the principal Act. The salient objects of the Draft Amendment Bill are to make provision, inter alia, for:
Provision for the establishment of the Western Cape Schools Evaluation authority
This new provision permits the Provincial Minister to establish an evaluation authority to be known as the Western Cape Schools Evaluation Authority ("Schools Evaluation Authority"). The WCED's project team is working closely with the Provincial Organisational Design Office to develop the School Evaluation Authority (SEA), which will be headed by a Chief Evaluator who has the necessary experience or knowledge of education.
The SEA will independently evaluate schools and develop school evaluation reports which will trigger Departmental support and developmental actions. This information will be available publicly to parents and communities. The aim is that, through working with the Organisational Development Team, we will have finalised the key job descriptions, job gradings, standard operating procedures and performance review processes over the next two months. The objective is that once the legislation is passed by Provincial Parliament, positions can be advertised and filled with an aim to have a fully functioning SEA for the 18/19 financial year.
The best part is that the development of this project has not cost us money. We have received private funding for a project manager, and the specialist knowledge for training our staff has also been privately funded. For this I am extremely grateful. We are all too aware of the current financial environment, and I really do believe that this can make a significant difference in improving education in the Western Cape. We have piloted this model in 42 schools already and have received very positive feedback.
Provision for the establishment of Collaboration Schools and Donor Funded Schools
Provision has also been made specifically for collaboration schools and the declaration of existing schools as collaboration schools by the Provincial Minister. Provision is also made for matters pertaining to the governance of these schools and for the funding of posts for educators and non-educators appointed directly by the governing bodies of these schools. The Bill further provides for the establishment of donor funded schools and the declaration of existing schools as donor funded schools by the Provincial Minister. Matters pertaining to the governance of these schools are also addressed.
Provision for establishing 'Intervention Facilities'
Provision has also been made for the Provincial Minister to establish intervention facilities for learners who may be expelled from a public school or found guilty of serious misconduct. Learners can be referred to these facilities as an alternative sanction to expulsion in disciplinary processes. We have over the years sent some learners to a facility at Die Bult in George where they have received interventions. In a number of cases, learners have been successfully reintegrated into their schools.
It is senseless to me that we have to expel learners in some cases, but they still have to receive education. What happens in practice is that expelled learners are accommodated in another school. This simply transfers the problem from one school to another. Establishing an intervention facility as an alternative, will enable the learner to receive various therapeutic programmes and intervention strategies, specific to their situation, whilst still receiving an education. The referral of the learner to the intervention facility is subject to parental consent.
The Bill provides for these facilities to be established within available budget, so they will have to be rolled out over time as budget allows. However, I am hoping to pilot one facility by the end of this year. It is important, though, to establish the legal foundation for such a facility and the right of governing bodies to provide for this referral as a sanction.
Provision addressing legislation regarding the use or sale of alcohol on school premises
As a result of extensive public comment on the proposals regarding the consumption and sale of alcohol on school premises, we have amended the provision. There will not be a general power for any school to allow the sale or consumption of alcohol at a school function. However, schools that wish to, will be permitted to apply in writing to the HOD, who can authorise a governing body or principal (in the case of a staff function) to permit the sale or consumption of alcohol on public school premises or at a school activity. This permission is subject to any conditions imposed by the Western Cape Liquor Act, 2008 (Act 4 of 2008), the governing body, principal (in the case of staff functions) and the HOD. In addition, the HOD, in considering such application, must have regard to Western Cape Government policies regarding alcohol harms reduction.
In the event that conditions are not complied with, the HOD may revoke the permission, after due process.
In terms of the legislative pathway, following Cabinet approval, the proposed Draft Bill will be published in the Provincial Gazette. The Provincial Parliament will consider comments and consult external stakeholders. If necessary, the text of the Draft Bill will be reworked.
It is my hope that the Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill will contribute toward improving education outcomes and ensuring that systems of learning and excellence in education are put in place in a manner that respects, protects, promotes and fulfils the right to basic education enshrined in section 29(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
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