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Home School Legal Defense Association supports the right of every family to home school, regardless of religious affiliation. Although the following comments and analysis, reprinted word-for-word from an e-mail from Philip Rosenthal, focus on the concerns many South African Christians have with the draft National Curriculum 2005, we believe that all home schoolers should be concerned about Education Minister Kader Asmal's perilous plunge toward federal control of curriculum. We post this e-mail as a service to South African home schoolers and those who are interested in their welfare.
J. Michael Smith
A Critique on South Africa's New National Curriculum Proposal
Comments on the New National Curriculum 2005 for schools
Many Christian organisations have the concern that the curriculum promotes the values of the Constitution at the expense of Christian values. For example, tolerance for homosexuality (or sexual orientation) is mentioned in the introduction of each of the sub-documents and in the definition of 'discrimination'. The learner is required for academic purposes to "demonstrate an active commitment to constitutional rights". Education Minister Kader Asmal has claimed personal responsibility for including homosexual rights in the constitution. It now appears that he would like to use this 'right' he has invented together with his position as education minister to indoctrinate South Africa's children to believe in his 'values'. While the constitution may contain many important rights for our protection, Christians have always objected to such unbiblical and immoral values in our constitution - and demand their removal. Learners are to be assessed on their 'tolerance'.
The question must be asked "What if a Christian child or teacher rejects some of the anti-Christian values of the constitution - such as tolerance for homosexuality?" Will a Christian teacher who rejects such values and refuses to teach them not be allowed to teach? If they choose to fight in court - they will probably win because of labour law and right to freedom of conscience - but how many will choose to fight and risk their jobs? The curriculum puts Christian learners, teachers and parents in an unacceptable position. Ironically it seems the education department may be violating the constitution by forcing children to learn its values.
Rather than remove such 'unbiblical rights', it seems now that the government wishes to use the schools to indoctrinate children into believing them - against the wishes of parents and the majority of South Africans. As Christians we may love homosexuals and want to see them saved, but we cannot tolerate the government forcing them to learn that such behaviour is acceptable. Secular humanist groups such as Planned Parenthood have for some time been using South African schools to promote their immoral agenda and many are concerned they may try to extend this to other 'rights' such as abortion. The new curriculum shows an increase in emphasis on sex education. So called 'reproductive health' and sexuality education is mandatory - even at a very young age.
This brings the question "What of the parent who doesn't want their child to learn about sexuality at school, but prefers to teach their child at home?" If such sexuality education is compulsory - how will such learners and parents be catered for? What of Christian schools that don't want to teach this?
There is a much greater emphasis on Islamic history. The curriculum shows a decrease in emphasis on Christian history towards that of other religions and from learning about values from a 'particular' religious perspective (Christian in our case) to rather learning about the values of all religions at the same time - again from a very young age. Such an approach usually makes children cynical rather than respectful of God and values. Are they trying to show that all paths lead to God. It denies the right of parents to determine what those values should be - instead placing Kader Asmal's personal values (as found in the Bill of Rights and Islam) above the Bible and those of parents.
Concern is also expressed that not enough time has been given to the public to study and respond to the documents; the lack of availablity of hard copies and the 'hiding of the curriculum' in an obscure corner of the government web site. Please include in your submission a request for more time.
Kader Asmal wishes to impose his curriculum now not only on government schools, but also on private schools. It thus denies parents the right to bring up their children with Christian values in accordance with Ephesians 6:4. Christians need the right to have their children educated in their particular faith. They can learn about others as well, but not on an equal basis. Parents who believe in other religions can go to other schools or have special classes in the same school - but for us Christian education is a Biblical command.
Kader Asmal expressed a strongly hostile view of Biblical Christianity, by publicly criticising a prayer meeting of 40 000 Christians in Cape Town for praying for the salvation of homosexuals. He later apologised for this. At present, Kader Asmal is blaming opposition to the new curriculum on the Christian homeschooling movement. It seems he has underestimated the strength of feeling for Christian values in our country in both private and government schools. Thus, it is important for you to tell him in your submission what type of school your children go to and if applicable any organisation your represent.
The Education Department is receiving submissions at:
Contact Grace Muleya
Fax 012 - 325 4001
Should you wish to speak to Kader Asmal personally, please phone him at 021-4657350 or fax him at 021-461 4788. If he flys to Pretoria, his number is 021-465 7350 and fax 021-461 4788. Kader Asmal believes in accessible government and the democratic process - so hold him to it. While he may not always agree with Christians, he was prepared to listen to us after the Newlands event and retracted his verbal attack. Lets hope he does the same with this curriculum. He is also a politician - and politicians understand that upset parents mean less votes. So, even if he isn't persuaded of your viewpoint - your protest will count.
We fought a very similar battle with the education department under the previous Minister Bhengu - that time we won and he very kindly listened to us and appointed a panel of experts to consider our concerns. But the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We mustn't go to sleep now. Use your phone, fax and email.
Read the details if you have time to read a 1400 page academic document at http://education.pwv.gov.za/DoE_Sites/Curriculum/New_2005/draft_revised_national_curriculu.htm#overview
Or read the comments on topical issues below by educational expert Karen Cerff
Analysis on Curriculum 2005, by Educational Analyst Karen Cerff
(from Radio Pulpit interview 9 October 2001)
Write at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The document in question is called the Draft New Curriculum 2005. The document is dated 30 July 2001, but only became available to the public some time afterwards. The public has been given until 12 October 2001 to offer comment. That is this Friday and so the urgency for response is critical. The 1 400 page document is available on the Internet, alternatively hard copies can be ordered. I'll provide the details later to give listeners the opportunity to make a note of the relevant addresses.
1. What is it about the new Curriculum 2005 proposal that Christians should be concerned about?
*There has been a serious lack of time for academics, practioners and the general public to read the document in detail and to submit comments.
*At present the Department of Education intends everyone to follow the same curriculum. This removes the possibility of diversity in education in South Africa, since Independent schools, Christian Schools and Home Schools will no longer have the freedom to follow another curriculum. All schools in South Africa, along with the state schools, will follow the same curriculum.
*The effect is then that the highest law is not God's Law and the Ten Commandments, but the so-called curriculum. The New Constitution of South Africa becomes the law for the foundation of what is taught to the children of our nation. The Constitutionion thereby becomes the god and this leads to basing the perspective of what is right or wrong on the Constitution, and not on the higher authority of God.
This perspective is typical of a Post-Modern society which holds that there are no absolutes except the ones we've agreed on, because those are the ones that don't hurt others and are perceived as being acceptable in the current environment. So the perspective is that 'your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth and its fine for us to have different truths as long as they don't harm one another or the environment'. The Post-Modern ideology doesn't challenge other towards growth, but challenges those they regard as obsolete or traditional. Post-Modern ideology will therefore challenge Christianity because they believe that it is not keeping up with modern trends. They will hence challenge what has always been accepted by society in general.
*There is an emphasis in the New Draft Curriculum 2005 on self-in-society rather than self-in-family, which borders on socialist thinking, where one doesn't have family as the building blocks of society. In a Socialist society the first allegiance of citizens is to the Law of the Land, ie. the Constitution rather than God and the family. This aspect of self-in-society can be seen in the Life Orientation section of the document in which there are no outcomes that emphasise the building up of the family.
2. Is it true that teachers will no longer be able to teach from a Christian perspective?
The answer to this question is both 'yes' and 'no'. Teachers will still be in a position to present a Biblical Christian Worldview in the classroom, but it will need to be done with an equal emphasis as presenting other worldviews. Teachers will, in effect, not be allowed to proselytise or witness.
So in effect, teachers will no longer have the freedom, as they have had until the present, to teach from a Christian perspective.
3. Will Christian children have to do exams about other religions?
The answer is yes, but I would like to qualify this.
*In the subject, Life Skills, it is a requirement, for example, for Grade 7, that learners understand and practise the concepts tolerance, thereby accepting all views, such as those on abortion, homosexuality and religion and refrain from making a stand regarding their personal values. If learners fail to do so, they are seen as not being tolerant or open, and in terms of the new curriculum, this will negatively impact their school results in terms of assessment. It's also significant that this assessment by teachers will take place inside the classroom, during extra-mural interaction and even at home, thereby infringing even on privacy and family values held dear at home. As Christians we have the right to educate our children with regard to their beliefs, sexuality and their relationships with their peers of both sexes.
*In the Life Skills programme the issue of developing a perspective towards homosexuality versus heterosexuality is addressed in much detail. Learners are already being taught to accept homosexuality and heterosexuality as equally desirable.
One should bear in mind that a curriculum such as this, which is outcomes based and 'contents-free', as it were, rather than content driven, allows a great deal of freedom for teachers with a secular bias to teach their ideas.
Learners will write exams and be assessed on other religions especially in Life Orientation. An example is in Grade 3, learning Outcome 2, the requirement is for learners to "describe at least three different ways that people worship",
in Grade 1 "a learner needs to identify symbols linked to his/her own belief system and at least three other belief systems in South Africa, and the learner needs to "tell stories from at least three SA cultures'.
In Grade 2, part of the assessment criteria are being able to assess the "similarities and differences in at least three belief systems in South Africa eg. diet, clothing, sacred places and decorations, and secondly, to discuss the values and morals from the stories of four SA cultures".
The danger here is that small children don't have the ability to distinguish Truth from error or deception, just as small children have difficulty in distinguishing fantasy from reality, such as we see in the character of Harry Potter, who as a little boy can cast spells.
Parents and the church should have the opportunity to guide children during their formative years to embrace their own belief system. By challenging the belief systems of such young children in the classroom can lead to confusion as children may be persuaded that all belief systems are of similar value.
As Christians, we shouldn't be fearful of allowing our children to see other religions, but would all of these perspectives be presented fairly is in question. In a time where Christianity is regarded as intolerant, Christianity may be excluded later on because it claims to be the only truth. This is a thoroughly devisive agenda.
4. What do you think, will be the long-term effects of these proposals, if they go through?
*By having these outcomes that all learners need to meet to pass from one grade to the next, it does make it difficult for learners to express their individuality and to take the lead in challenging the ideas of their day. The government is in effect aiming to make little jelly babies out of our children and the children in the generations to follow.
The government's hidden agenda is that of establishing 'one world religion' in which it advances the understanding that all paths lead to God and the only absolute is that you tolerate everything else.
While Christian Nationalism had its good points, in essence what it amounted to, was to attempt to produce learners who fit into the model dictated by the state. The danger is with this new curriculum is that the government is doing exactly the same thing, but the source of the ideas has changed.
Christians and indeed most citizens in our nation have been lulled into sense of comfort and security because of the so-called Christian consensus in our nation until the recent past. As concerned Christians, we need to realize that the true "struggle" has begun.
5. How should Christians react?
Christians should first pray and develop a zeal to make a difference as Christians in a secular society.
Secondly, Christians should write letters to voice their objections about this and other issues of our day. It is a fact that government do take note of letters and emails.
Thirldy, Christians should become better informed about these issues. One way would be to request a forum in their schools where these matters could be raised and discussed. We need to remember that "evil prevails where good men and women do nothing".
6. What are the contact details if people want to send in their objections?
Contact Grace Muleya
Fax 012 325 4001
Post: Attention Grace Muleya
Department of Education
Private Bag X895
Hard copies of the document are available on request. Contact Grace Muleya by fax, telephone 012 312 5123 or email.
7. Where can they see the document (web address)?
Another document to look at is 'The Manifesto on Values, Education and Democracy' on the opening page of the website.
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