As communities within South Africa continue to suffer the effects of alcohol abuse, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has voiced concern at proposed amendments of the Western Cape Provincial School Education Act (1997) that would allow the consumption of alcohol on school property. In August, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) proposed amendments to the Act and invited the public to submit their comments. In response, the MJC issued a letter to MEC Debbie Schafer, in which it urged the ministry to review the tabling of the proposed bill.
According to the WCED, the amendments would address the “extremely restrictive legislation” regarding alcohol on school premises.
“The current situation is so restrictive that if a principal wishes to take educators out for an event off school premises where any alcohol is consumed, they are falling foul of the law. In addition, I have had complaints from schools who wish to engage in fundraising activities where alcohol is sold or consumed, but this is against the law,” said the Minister in a statement.
“The proposed amendment is to allow for the principal or governing body to approve the sale or use of alcohol on school premises, but strictly subject to the provisions of the Western Cape Liquor Act and any conditions set by the governing body or principal. It will be up to the school if they wish to do this or not, and I trust it will be exercised responsibly.”
Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat Show, MJC secretary general Shaykh Isgaak Taliep provided clarity on the position of the ulema body regarding the proposed amendments. Taliep said given the impact that alcohol has had on communities within the country and the fact that alcohol was used during Apartheid to ensure that poor communities remain complacent in the face of great oppression, the MJC has decided to ensure that more is done to curb the scourge of alcohol abuse.
In light of an evident increase in alcohol related domestic abuse cases, as well as the prevalence of foetal alcohol syndrome within the country, allowing alcohol and alcohol advertisements at schools is irresponsible.
“Education is supposed to enhance learning and the environment is meant to support and to be conducive for effective learning. So, to bring alcohol [into schools] is not going to be a positive move,” Taliep stated.
In addition, Taliep asserts that the presence of alcohol at school events may result in a change within the environment, where skirmishes between those consuming alcohol may occur.
“So we don’t agree with this at all since it will not be utilised responsibly. It has not worked in the past and I don’t believe that it will be utilised responsibly in the future.”
While a draft bill has recently been tabled for the age of legal drinking to be increased from 18-years to 21-years, Taliep says that as Muslims the consumption of alcohol is completely unacceptable, irrespective of the age limit.
“[However] From a South African citizen perspective, in which we live with non-Muslims, if consumption can be delayed from 18 to 2-years then it’s a step in the right direction and we would solute it; it’s more a case of choosing the lesser of the two evils,” he continued.
Describing the impact of the consumption of alcohol as a “global problem”, the shaykh encourages authorities to minimize consumption of alcohol as far as possible.
Taliep urges anyone who wishes to oppose the bill to forward letters of opposition to the MJC’s media officer, Nabeweya Malik, on 021 684 4636 or email: email@example.com.
To read the full media release by the Ministry of Education on the proposed amendments, visit: http://wced.school.za/comms/press/2016/45_24aug.html VOC