JOHANNESBURG (Apr. 20)
Both houses of South Africa’s Parliament passed a bill setting up a new, national education policy which, among other clauses, provides that education in Government schools shall be “Christian and broadly national in character.” However. Senator Jan de Klerk, principal sponsor of the legislation, who is Minister for Education, Arts and Sciences, has promptly assured the Jewish community that the bill maintains the status quo “as far as Jewish parents, teachers and pupils are concerned.”
During the debate on the bill in the National Assembly, Sen. de Klerk had told the house: “The provision that education should have a Christian character merely meant that education should be built on the foundation of traditional, Western culture and philosophy of life, with Biblical principles recognized.” The editor of the South African Jewish Times had requested Sen. de Klerk editorially to clarify that statement further. In his reply, the Minister for Education declared:
“I fail to appreciate the uneasiness of the Jewish community in the face of the clarifications and assurances given by me in both Houses of Parliament on the National Education Policy Bill. From the Hansard (official minutes) reports, you will observe that my definition of the concepts of ‘Christian education’ and ‘broad national character’ leave no room for fears.
“In any case the bill specifically states that ‘the religious conviction of the parents and pupils shall be respected in regard to religious instruction and religious ceremonies,’ and the bill contains no other provisions appertaining to the religious convictions of teachers. In effect, therefore, the status quo is being maintained so far as Jewish parents, teachers and pupils are concerned. In the light of the foregoing, any fear or doubt which may exist is without foundation.”