Education MEC Debbie Schäfer’s ill-considered plan to allow alcohol sales at schools under certain conditions has been dealt a severe blow, and rightly so.

As we report today, the legislature’s legal counsel cautioned that the controversial Western Cape Schools Education Amendment Bill clashes with national legislation.

Why Schäfer did not know this before is a mystery, but selling alcohol at schools is a no-no. The MEC must be encouraged to have conversations with her community safety and transport counterparts. They can educate her about the impact alcohol abuse has, particularly in disadvantaged areas. They can also explain to her how it contributes to the mayhem and loss of lives on the roads.

In addition, Schäfer must be taught to accept that using alcohol sales to generate funding for schools is a lame excuse. There are countless other ways. Equally poor is DA provincial education spokesperson and education standing committee chairperson Basil Kivedo’s excuse that the main objectives of the bill are “to make provision for goods and services to be centrally procured and to regulate monitoring and support of curriculum delivery at public schools”.

What nonsense.

You do not need alcohol sales to support curriculum delivery. What you need is a teaching and learning environment, educators prepared to serve and proper resources. If Kivedo and Schäfer are determined to have this bill become law, they must take responsibility for incidents related to alcohol sales at schools. Their party, the DA, would do well to instruct them to dump the plan completely.

ANC provincial education spokesperson Theo Olivier may have a point when he says: “The DA’s attitude towards alcohol and (ab)use thereof is alarming in a province where excessive alcohol abuse is a very serious problem in many poor communities. They will be hardest hit by this irresponsible DA plan.”

Schäfer and Kivedo as well as the provincial cabinet must take heed of legislature legal adviser advocate Andre le Roux’s warning that clauses in the bill are in conflict with existing regulations forming part of safety measures at public schools.

The time and money wasted on public hearings on the bill could be put to better use. Schäfer is the province’s political head of education, but there’s absolutely nothing educational about the bill.