Share this page:


September 17, 2010

Justice Needed for Homeschooling Families

Note: This is in response to an article published in the Botswana Gazette.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I read with interest your well-founded report by Khonani Ontabetse in today’s edition of the Gazette, on the court battles being waged against four families in Mahalapye for allegedly educating their children at home.

My interest in the article arises from my involvement with the Pestalozzi Trust, a legal defence fund for home education based in South Africa. We are supporting the families in Mahalapye in their quest to obtain the justice that they are confident of receiving in the courts of Botswana.

Please allow me, however, to point out several erroneous claims made by the good pastor who is quoted in the report. In the first place, these families are not being “prosecuted.” No criminal charge has been laid against the families. The case is a civil suit in which a welfare agency is asking the Botswana courts to substitute their bureaucratic views (and those of the pastor’s church) on what is best for the children for the informed judgment of the parents.

Secondly, there are no “religious groups in South Africa” who are “behind the idea of home learning” as claimed. Home education is practiced all over the world by people of all faiths and no faith. In South Africa there are at least 30,000 home learners, while there are about three times that many in the United Kingdom. In the USA home education has become a mainstream option for the education of children, and there are now more home learners in that country than the entire population of Botswana.

Thirdly, at least one of the families that was hit by the court orders does not educate their children at home and have never done so. They were simply caught up in a vindictive dragnet of persecution.

Finally, the court actions of the families is not being funded from South Africa alone as claimed. An international fund raising campaign on their behalf has received support from Botswana itself, from other African countries, and from Europe, North America, and around the world. There is keen international interest in the fate of these families.

Yours sincerely,
Leendert van Oostrum
Executive Officer : Pestalozzi Trust

PO Box 12332
0121 Pretoria
Republic of South Africa

Fax +2711 507 5997
Tel +2712 330 1337