Legal Changes in South Africa
by Karin Van Oostrum, Guest Writer • October 5, 2018
Homeschooling families in South Africa face a great deal of uncertainty as the government considers new restrictions on home education.
The Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELA Bill), published on October 13, 2017, proposes much stricter control over homeschoolers, including annual student assessments by individuals “competent” to perform the task.
The concern is that these assessments would focus on the state curriculum, avoidance of which is one of the most frequent reasons why families remove their children from school. This requirement would severely limit parents’ choice of learning approach and curriculum for their children.
The Draft Home Education Policy, published three weeks after the BELA Bill, takes up some but not all of the proposals in the BELA Bill. It is a confusing document, with conflicting viewpoints, relying on both theSouth African Schools Act 84 of 1996, and the draft BELA Bill.
Policy is supposed to follow the promulgation of a law, but in this case the policy was published before the comments on the BELA Bill had been considered. (The BELA Bill is still under consideration.)
Since the policy is the document which the officials will have in hand when interacting with homeschoolers, it should be carefully checked against the existing law. All indications are that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) might not have changed the policy substantially, if at all.
The Pestalozzi Trust, which advocates for homeschooling, is concerned that publication of such a policy will infringe on children’s right to education and parents’ right to care for their children and act in their best interests.
However, the DBE has given notice that the draft policy has been approved for promulgation. The contents of the policy have not been made known yet. We therefore cannot comment on it yet.
While we are worried, we are thankful for the Lord’s protection of home schooling in South Africa. It always has been a battle, but miraculously He has fought many battles for us, most probably unknown to us. Could you please pray for us – for courage and faith, and especially for wisdom for the leaders?
Africa Conference 2019
The Pestalozzi Trust and EACH from Kenya are planning a conference for Africa, to coincide with the 21st anniversary of the Pestalozzi Trust. The proposed date is October 18–20, 2019. The location will be in Gauteng (Johannesburg/Pretoria), for easier access from Africa. Visitors who would like to visit the Cape or the Kruger National Park are welcome to travel before or after the event. All are welcome to attend!