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South Africa
South Africa

January 10, 2005

Curriculum Mandate for Homeschoolers
Publication: Daily Dispatch
Govt plan angers home schoolers
By: Gavin de Villiers

EAST LONDON - Parents who home school their children here are outraged at the government's plan to transform education by imposing a one-size-fits-all state curriculum on all learners - including home schoolers.

The parents allege that the curriculum plan for 2005 enforced by the Gauteng Education Department (GED) last year is illegal and unconstitutional. They further allege that the state curriculum denies parents the right to raise and educate their children according to their values and beliefs.

"It is only a matter of time before government tries to impose its one-size-fits-all state curriculum plan here in the Eastern Cape. We are angry because it is apparent that socio engineering and not education is at the top of of their agenda," said Eastern Cape Home Schooling Association (ECHSA) chairperson Ad'le Breedt.

Bouwe van de Eems, chairperson of the Gauteng Association for Home Schooling (AHS), said: "It is the right of parents to transfer their values to their children, (and not the government's values). This right is recognised in the constitution, the SA Schools Act and international law. The actions of the government are therefore illegal."

Members of the AHS in Johannesburg expressed their anger at the government's plan and said: "Their plan has now caused member families to join forces by starting a coalition of concerned parents which they are calling 'Fathers for the rule of law'.

The coalition aims to challenge the Education Department on its intended plan and to stop the government from what the home schooling parents are calling "illegal government interference".

The parents say that according to the Constitution (Article 28.1b), it places a duty on parents to choose an education that is in their child's best interest. The parents claim that the government's plan for a state curriculum threatens their freedom of choice.

Clive Roos, former CEO of the Schools Governing Body Foundation and now a consultant in education matters, said: "South Africa now has an education system which lacks accountability, promotes quantity at the cost of quality and produces pupils untrained in basic skills, such as reading and writing, and ill equipped for the modern world."

According to Breedt the results of learner achievement tests demonstrate that the state curriculum is failing. In contrast, a recent thesis on home education shows that home-educated children are achieving way above their institutionalised peers.

Many home school parents here, when asked by the Daily Dispatch what they thought about the GDE's curriculum, said that the government's plan was unconstitutional.

"It cannot be imposed, here or in Gauteng. It will be against the law and government is not above the law," said one irate home schooler.

The acting director-general for Education, Duncan Hindle, dismissed the parents' allegations, saying: "They are misguided. The national nurriculum for home schooling has been in place since 1998.

"What the parents could be upset about is the fact that they have to meet the minimum requirements set by government and we are going to be stricter in monitoring this."

Pestalozzi Trust manager and curriculum specialist Leendert van Oostrum rejected Hindle's statement and said: "The curriculum was promulgated only on 31 May, 2002, and not in 1998 as the director-general claims.

"The home schoolers in the Eastern Cape have a genuine concern. If they (the GDE) get it right in Gauteng, it will inevitably be implemented in all regions, including the EC."

Leendert noted that there was a public outcry when the Department of Education first issued a draft version of home schooling policies in July 2001.

"They (the national Education Department) had to rework this version after a public protest."

There are currently an estimated 100000 home-educating families in South Africa.

"The numbers have been steadily escalating each year since it was provided for in the South African Schools Act in 1996," said Van Oostrum.