Afrikaans in danger? Language ‘under threat’ from NEW school proposals


Three major organisations have taken a swipe at the controversial Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, which closes for public comment on Friday. The new legislation mat give the state more power to determine local school policies – and it’s also seen as ‘a threat’ to Afrikaans.

What is the BELA Bill, and does it threaten the Afrikaans language?

The BELA Bill would transfer the final say on school language and admission policies to provincial governments – all of which are run by the ANC, barring the Western Cape’s DA leadership. That would mean that primarily Afrikaans-speaking schools would come under greater scrutiny.

Trade union Solidariteit have described the proposals as ‘an attack on functioning schools’, fearing that this would give the state too much room to interfere with decisions made by School Governing Bodies. The group has vowed to prevent the bill from being ‘steamrollered’ into law:

“Solidarity is of the opinion that the amendments as proposed in the BELA Bill is an attack on functional schools, especially schools within the Afrikaans community. Governing bodies will have to cede almost all their powers to the state.”

Solidariteit statement

Political opponents fear educational options ‘being undermined’

The DA is also fairly upset with the proposals, and they are apprehensive about what impact they could have on ‘mother tongue education’. The Shadow Education Minister, Bax Nodada, is now worried about how this will alter SA’s educational landscape.

“The BELA Bill will significantly change the education landscape and will be detrimental to quality mother tongue education, including Afrikaans, for decades to come. The ANC has a track record that perpetually undermines the well-being of South Africans.”

Bax Nodada

Afrikaans ‘directly exposed’ to political interference

AfriForum has also made a number of submissions to the public participation process, while seeking out a legal opinion. Alana Bailey, the group’s Head of Cultural Affairs, has described the BELA framework as ‘unconstitutional and debatable’.

“It’s unconstitutional, and it threatens the Afrikaans mother tongue education. For Afrikaners, the proposals that the provincial education heads should in future have the final say on the admission and language policy of schools are the most debatable aspect of this.”

Alana Bailey


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