The Department is the responsibility of a Member of the Executive Council who, together with the Premier of the Province, exercises executive authority in the Province as contemplated in Section 125 of the Constitution. The powers of the Executive Council include the implementation of provincial legislation, implementation of national legislation within the functional areas listed in Schedule 4 or 5 to the Constitution and the preparation, initiation and introduction of provincial legislation.
The Premier, in terms of Section 132 of the Constitution, has assigned to the Member of the Executive Council responsible for Education these powers and functions. As such, the Member of the Executive Council is responsible for the functions of the executive insofar as education matters are concerned as envisaged in Section 133.
Within the framework of the Constitution, the MEC and the Department have specific mandates imposed by the laws governing education to legislate and implement policies on various matters that concern education in the Province. One of the core mandates imposed by the South African Schools’ Act on the MEC is the obligation to provide schools and administer education in the province. The execution of this mandate involves the passing of laws, regulations and other regulatory measures within the Department’s Constitutional competencies.
Within the broad constitutional framework, the Department, through its Head, exercises powers under the following Legislation:
The National Education Policy Act, 1996;(as amended)
The South African Schools’ Act, 1996 (as amended);
The Northern Cape Schools Education Act, 1996;
The Employment of Educators Act, 1998; (as amended)
The Adult Basic Education and Training Act 2000; (as amended)
The Public Service Act, 1994; (as amended)
The Public Finance Management Act, 1999; (as amended)
The Labour Relations Act, 1995; (as amended)
The Employment Equity Act, 1999; (as amended)
The Regulations and Measures made under the above Acts; and
The Resolutions concluded in the relevant Bargaining Chambers established under the Labour Relations Act.
The public entities managed and administered for provision by the department, consist of public ordinary and special schools and FET-colleges. The department provides for 606 public learning and teaching institutions (2011 Snap survey) and two Further Education and Training Institutions. As a result of the rationalisation of small schools, particularly in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district, the number of ordinary schools has decreased to 560 (2012 Snap Survey). The institutions were established or deemed to have been established in terms of the Northern Cape Schools Education Act. The principals and Chief Executive Officers undertake the professional management of the public schools and colleges respectively under the supervision of the Head of Department.
The BASIC EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT ACT has been passed and has brought about some of the under mentioned changes:
SPECIALIZED SCHOOLS ON TALENT: The Act introduces a third category of school that provides education with a specialized focus on talent, including sport, performing arts and creative arts.
UNFAIR DISCRIMINATION ON LANGUAGES: The Act imposes an obligation on Governing Bodies not to discriminate between languages. The Department is expected to monitor compliance.
MEC `s POWER TO DECLARE NO FEE SCHOOLS: The Act provides that MEC may declare additional schools to be no fee in addition to the schools so declared by the National Minister.
RISK TO THE DEPARTMENT EXTENDED: The Act extends the liability of the Department to contractual damages where schools have entered into contracts.
TRAINING OF GOVERNING BODIES: The Act also envisages a situation where the Department may request recognized governing body association or any recognised training institution to train governing bodies for a fee.