Schools Could See Changes In Codes Of Conduct

Codes of conduct provide learners with rules to follow and values to uphold when in and around the school premises. Parliament introduced a bill which noticed changes in the way schools create their codes of conduct.

Parliament introduced the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, which has many controversial issues which civil society groups desire to seek clarity on to ensure that rights are not infringed upon.

Section 27, a public interest law centre that seeks to achieve substantive equality and social justice in the country, accepts the bill, however, has pointed out issues which need to be expanded on to ensure clarity.

Section 27 Attorney Zeenat Sujee stated that oversight needs to be exercised over the Code of Conduct that schools use. Sujee added that the Head of Departments need to review policies, in a limited time frame, to ensure they align with the policy and constitution.

The BELA Bill provides School Governing Bodies (SGB) with the ability to draft their Code of Conduct.

Sujee stated that the Code of Conduct needs to follow the criteria listed below:

  • Be in the best interest of learners.
  • Be mindful and respectful of religious and cultural practices.
  • Take into account learners’ medical conditions.
  • Should be non-discriminatory toward pregnant learners.

Clause three of the BELA Bill aims to insert that schools should monitor learner attendance. Monitoring learner attendance would be the responsibility of teachers and principals.

According to Sujee, co-operative governance mechanisms need to be adopted and the BELA Bill should expand the monitoring of attendance to provincial departments. This will allow provincial departments to investigate and address matters which affect learner attendance.

Clause 13 of the bill aims to amend Section 12A of the South African Schools Act which relates to guidelines related to school mergers and closures. The act sets out guidelines that should be followed when mergers take place such as requiring engagement between principals, SGBs, and governmental departments of the information of schools.

Sujee stated that they welcome in-depth amendments to processes when provincial departments try to merge schools but the Education Department should make practical considerations when merges take place.

As mergers sometimes fail to ensure suitable infrastructure and scholar transport which was the case for Makangwane Secondary School. These learners were being taught under a tree at the school before intervention was taken by Section 27 to secure mobile classrooms

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