While’s there is a justifiable fuss being made about how to fund tertiary education, there’s an equally grave legislative threat to the few dependable public schools that still exist that has been overlooked.

The Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill aims to limit the powers of school governing bodies (SGBs) to recommend candidates for promotion. In other words, SGBs will only be able to recommend appointments at the first level — that of teachers. Hiring principals, their deputies or heads of department will be the "sole responsibility" of the provincial department of education.

This strips parents of their say over who runs their schools. And it opens the way for politically motivated patronage on a huge scale by strengthening the hand of the SA Democratic Teachers Union, which has already captured much of the public school system and ruined many schools in the process.

It’s also not practicable. There are more than 24,000 public schools in SA. As it is, the provincial bureaucracies cannot cope with the administration. This bill means appointments will grind to a halt.

Teachers who have remained loyal to public schools will have a powerful incentive to move to the private sector or leave the profession. It is hard to think of a more effective way of committing national educational suicide.

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