This ANC proposal will be a disaster for sport in South African schools

If the ANC gets its way, it would strip parents of their ability to ensure that their children have the best chance to play sport at school.
This ANC proposal will be a disaster for sport in South African schools

Reading the ANCs 2022 Umrabulo Policy Discussion Document released before the governing party’s policy conference in July, a striking proposal will kick the idea of traditional school sports while it is down.

School sports are an integral part of developing the abilities of students in their journey through the South African education system. The Department of Basic Education acknowledges this, saying in a 2014 document celebrating an edition of the South African Schools National Championships: “School sport is the bedrock of sports in the country. The Department has taken a conscious decision to encourage learners to participate in a variety of sport activities.” Focus on bedrock - the foundation of our provincial and national teams. 

Various School Governing Bodies (SGBs), comprised of teachers and parents, currently have the ability to dictate sport policy at schools across the country, illustrating remarkable success in showcasing the talent of our young people, because schools offer what opportunities they can afford, which parents desire for their children and not what a Minister wants.

The ANC proposes a policy review which would remove sport code policies from the auspices of SGBs, to the behest of both the Ministers of Basic Education and Minister of Sport, Arts & Culture. However, research from the Institute of Race Relations shows that the provision of sporting grounds disproportionately favours former ‘Model C’ schools, and that schools in rural and poorer areas simply do not have the ability to offer sporting codes reliably and that public schools in general have a cumulative lack of sport infrastructure. The poor support that the ANC government provides to sport in school does not go unnoticed.

Problems do indeed exist with school sports, but this proposal is a distraction from one of the most fundamental aspects of school sports, access to facilities and coaches. This short-sighted proposal will help in the same way as when the government claims changing the names of towns will “improve service delivery”.

Instead of the ANC’s proposed foolish policy review, the respective departments should ensure that students have the facilities available them to practice the sports that suit their abilities, not forced by a civil servant sitting half way across the country to participate in a sport which they do not want to.

The crisis of sporting infrastructure is more important that sporting codes. At the heart of the Freedom Advocacy Network’s #FreedomToPLAY campaign, is the freedom of sport participants to have the freedom to choose. Without the proper infrastructure and decision-making poached by the government, a choice cannot be made. It is important that parents and teachers are empowered to make the best possible decisions for students, giving them the best opportunity to showcase their talent with tangible training, equipment and infrastructure.

The Department clearly knows the value that sport brings to the empowerment of students, and so do many freedom-loving South Africans. So, why not leave sporting code decisions to School Governing Bodies who have not set a foot wrong?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Invest in improvement and let parents have the dignity of giving their children a sporting chance.

 Cover image source available here.





Making our case in the media
This ANC proposal will be a disaster for sport in South African schools

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