DA wants extension on school religion policy

The Democratic Alliance has urged Education Minister Kader Asmal to extend the deadline allowing the public to comment on his proposed religion and education policy for schools.

DA education spokesman Willem Doman said in a statement that several stakeholders had approached the party complaining they had not had sufficient time to consider the draft policy.

The deadline was last Friday, and most schools would re-open this week.

Asmal's draft policy proposes the limiting of religious practice at South Africa's schools.

Doman said the DA rejected any prescription from the state on the content of religious observance.

He said the policy should allow school governing bodies to decide on the specific form of religious observance at their schools.

"We believe the policy seriously misinterprets the Constitution by incorrectly deducing that celebrating any diversity would breach unity."

Doman said unity would be promoted if diversity in religion was allowed to be celebrated.

"Why must a school reflect the religious diversity of South Africa if it is not reflected in that particular school?"

He said the minister was going against the constitution by being prescriptive.

"The Constitution says that the State must be neutral. In addition, it requires the State to promote religious freedom, and not to restrict it," he said.