South Africans face jail if children not in school

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South Africans face jail if children not in school

South Africa’s parliament has passed a major education bill that could see parents face prison if their children are not in school.

Under the Basic Education Laws Amendment (Bela), they could be jailed for up to 12 months if their children are truant, or if they are not enrolled when they reach school age.

Bela also introduces a ban on corporal punishment in all schools.

It is the biggest education overhaul since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The governing party, the African National Congress (ANC), says the bill will “transform our education system, to address historical and present challenges”.

However, the biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has condemned it, saying it gives the state too much control over schools and will lead to the collapse of education.

It led a protest during the vote and has threatened to take the government to the constitutional court if it becomes law.

The ANC has a huge majority in parliament and the bill was backed by 223 MPs, with just 83 against, on Thursday.

Education expert Mary Metcalf told SABC News agreed that there should be consequences for parents who don’t send their children to school.

Prof Metcalf said this was the “basic bare minimum” of being a parent.

Earlier this year a study found that 8 out of 10 South African school children struggle to read by the age of 10.