The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in SA (SAAPA SA) will today (22 November) make its presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on why alcohol does not belong in schools.
The inclusion in the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill of a recommendation that liquor be allowed on school premises, and at school functions to raise funds, puts learners at risk and should be completely scrapped from the Bill.
“Youth drinking and alcohol harm needs to be reduced in South Africa as we have seen with the Enyobeni tavern tragedy. Government must protect children from alcohol harm and prevent further normalisation of alcohol in our communities by removing this clause completely.” said Terri-Liza Fortein, SAAPA SA Communications Manager.
Children and youth are already unwitting victims of the harmful use of alcohol. They are vulnerable to physical and psychological abuse, deprivation of adequate sustenance, and a lack of adequate education, all because of the harmful use of alcohol in their homes and their communities.
Learners encounter so much alcohol harm already, very often the school environment is one of the few places of safety and learning they have at their disposal.
The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education earlier this year called for written and oral submissions on the Bill. SAAPA SA was invited to make it’s oral presentation to the committee following the organisation’s participation in this process.
The BELA Bill is proposing changes to multiple laws and addressing a wide range of critical educational issues. SAAPA SA is not rejecting the Bill in its entirety. Our concerns are restricted to the liquor sections of the Bill and we are calling for a return to the proposal in the 2015 version of the Bill which called for liquor to be banned on school premises, along with ‘dangerous weapons’, ‘illegal drugs’, and ‘other prohibited substances’, the first two of which were first prohibited in the BELA Act of 2007.
Section 28 of the Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights and says in subsections 1(c) and 1(d) that every child has the right to basic nutrition; shelter; basic health care services and social services; and the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation. Section 29 of the Constitution, also part of the Bill of Rights, says in subsection (1)(a) that everyone has the right to a basic education.
If we put the two together, it is reasonable to suggest that the section 29 basic education, to which children are entitled, must also take into account section 28, especially subsection (d), which promotes the protection of children from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation. However, it is clear from everything we hear during Child Protection Week every year – from government and civil society – that we as a country are failing to provide this protection, and that the harmful use of alcohol by those around them – adults in particular – denies children the rights enshrined in 28(1)(c) and (d).
Furthermore, the 29(1)(a) right to basic education surely implies that adequate resources must be made available in order for that right to be realised – it is therefore incorrect that schools are not provided adequate resources, such that they have to turn to having alcohol on school premises to bolster their fund-raising activities. Furthermore, the type of basic education offered must take into account subsections 28(1)(c) and (d).
The position of SAAPA SA and its more than 90 civil society Alliance Partners is clear – alcohol has no place in our schools! – and we call on learners, parents, teachers and other school staff, as well as community members generally, to voice their opposition, through whatever means possible, to the liquor clauses in the Bill that will legitimise the use of alcohol on school premises and during school activities.
South Africans can access the BELA Bill and related documents at https://pmg.org.za/bill/1055/. We also encourage everyone to sign the SAAPA SA ‘Say NO! to alcohol in schools’ petition at https://bit.ly/3NAZR2i. SAAPA SA can be reached via www.saapa.africa.
Nearly 6000 South Africans have already signed the petition.
For more information contact:
Terri-Liza Fortein, Advocacy and Communication Manager: email@example.com and 079 976 5489
Justice Neswiswi, Acting Executive Director: firstname.lastname@example.org and 084 682 9787