So. African Minister Assures Jews on Pending Education Bill

The South African Jewish community, concerned over a new National Educational Policy Bill introduced in Parliament by the Minister of Education, Sen, Jan de Klerk, was reassured by Sen. de Klerk today no sectarianism was intended and that private, tuition-charging schools, including Jewish schools, would not be affected by the planned new legislation.

Under the bill, South African education policy would be framed by the Minister, in consultation with an advisory board and the administrators of the four provinces, and would require that all education be “broadly national” and “Christian” in character. The minister, replying to opposition critics in Parliament, said:

“The provision that education have a Christian character meant merely that education should be built on the foundation of the traditional Western culture and philosophy of life, with Biblical principles recognized.” He stressed that “national character meant the ideal of national development of all citizens, so that the nation could retain its own identity and fulfill its task of Western civilization.”

The bill also would provide that “the religious conviction of parents and pupils” must be respected in regard to religious instruction and ceremonies, the Minister said. Prior to Sen. de Klerk’s statement, the Southern African Jewish Times here asked editorially whether the bill does not imply sectarian tendencies in education.

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