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April 3, 2003

South Africa Minister Of Education Attempts to Stop Religious Teaching in Homeschools

Last week, the Minister of Education distributed the final version of his contemplated policy on religion in education for comment.

Nico van der Walt, a well known Baptist minister in Pretoria, said of the intended policy in a radio interview:

"The Apostle Peter willingly went to jail for less than this."

The policy states among other things:

  1. All children in state schools, private schools, and home education will be compelled to receive religion education from a "neutral" perspective.

  2. The necessary learning programs, learning materials, and instruments of assessment will be produced centrally by the education department.

  3. The material must be taught by specially trained political teachers.

Hundreds of thousands of South Africans find the requirement for religion education from a "neutral" perspective to be tantamount to blasphemy. Many of them argue that any "neutral" perspective on religion is, in itself, a religious position.

Such people find themselves in the position of needing to choose between submission to God and submission to government.

It is also noticeable that the documents were mailed the day before the schools closed for the holidays, and that comments are due on the day that schools re-open.

The complete draft policy and a few initial comments can be read at In the coming days the web page will be augmented with resource materials for persons who wish to respond to the document.

Submitted by Leendert vn Oostrum, Executive Director of the Pestalozzi Trust