The Democratic Alliance (DA) has accused Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi of “misleading the public” with regards to language policies in Gauteng schools.
What Lesufi said about school language policies
According to Member of Parliament (MP) Desiree van der Walt, on 16 August 2019, Lesufi had a Radio 702 interview. During the interview, the MEC announced that “all language policies of all our schools have been declared null and void” in Gauteng.
Van der Walt, who is also the DA Shadow Deputy Minister of
Basic Education, felt Lesufi’s statements were ‘misleading.’ The MP shared how the
Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, had responded to a DA
Parliamentary question relating to language policies.
Motshekga’s take on the policies
“The language policies of schools in the Republic are not hitherto null and void as their development and review should be informed by the periodic review of departmental policies. The development and periodic review of departmental language policies including the Language in Education Policy are informed by provisions such as the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa as well as the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996.”
Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education
DA blames Lesufi for ‘misleading the public’
Van der Walt stated that the minister’s response clearly showed how “incorrect and misleading” Lesufi’s statements were. The MP explained how the MEC had claimed that schools had until the end of September to submit new language policies.
The MP also noted Lesufi’s statement “that every School
Governing Body in Gauteng would be compelled to call parents to vote on which
languages should remain and which should be changed.” Van der Walt also shared
how the MEC added that “we have passed the legislation in Parliament. That legislation
must be adopted. . .”
She argued that “no such legislation was passed in Parliament.”
The MP agreed that school language policies in schools were determined by
school governing bodies.
What the Basic Education Rights Handbook says
However, she disagreed with Lesufi’s unilateral
declararation “that all language policies [were] null and void.” Van der Walt
added: “The Basic Education Rights Handbook clearly states an MEC’s powers in
She quoted the handbook noting that it stated:
“While the school governing body determines the language policy of the school, the MEC may intervene if the language policy is discriminatory, unduly restricts access to the school, or is unreasonable in any other way.”
The Basic Education Rights Handbook
DA calls Lesufi to account for false utterances
Van der Walt explained how none of the above mentioned “circumstances”
were “applied to the context of Lesufi’s statements on radio.” She called for
the MEC to account for “misleading the public” on the matter.
The DA’s MP noted how there “clearly had not been any
amendments to the legislation which guides school language policies to date.”