The Department of Education (DOE) made the decision to forge ahead with the public participation meetings for its controversial bill to allow the sale of alcohol at Western Cape schools despite legal counsel advising against it.
The proposal received a resounding “no” during its public participation meetings.
Speaking to IOL, Basil Kivedo, a Democratic Alliance (DA) member of Parliament and Chairperson of the DOE’s standing committee, said that the proposal was so strongly rejected because of the alcohol element it contains. “There was an overwhelming rejection of the bill because of the alcohol aspect to it. Residents simply did not want to hear it. But the other issues on collaboration schools and donor funding remained sort of untouched by those who attended the meetings,” he said.
He added that the bill was rejected despite having other elements, and that these were ignored by the public.
“The bill had other aspects to it, but that was almost ignored by most people. People started off their speeches with the alcohol fears of the bill. I would have liked to hear comments on the donor funding and matter around the school governing bodies. The alcohol factor, however, dominated the debate outright,” Kivedo said.
Earlier this month, the legal counsel of the provincial legislature advised that the bill should not be adopted, as it is in conflict with national legislation.
National regulation states that no person may be in possession of or make use of alcohol during any school activity. Regulation dictates that a “school activity” is defined as any educational, cultural, sporting or social activity of a specific school – including inside or outside its premises.
The way forward will now depend on the decision of provincial government and specifically that of the provincial department of education.
In an interview on 702, Western Cape Education MEC, Debbie Schäfer, explained that the proposed bill simply aims to set limits for the use and consumption of alcohol during school activities.
“Many schools already have functions where alcohol is being sold and everyone just seems to turn a blind eye to all that so what we thought was why don’t we rather regularise it, leave the ban in place but allow for schools, if they wish to, to apply to the Head of Department (HOD) who can put conditions to it for alcohol to be allowed at some school activities with relevant conditions,” she said.