Even as governments in South Africa and neighbouring nations consider restricting home education, parents and students at a regional conference shared the most compelling reason they could think of for keeping homeschooling free: the method is working for their families.

“When you homeschool, you are doing life together with the children,” Kenyan homeschool father Canute Waswa told a newspaper in Pretoria, South Africa. “They look at you, learn from you, and you set an example.”

“I have time to do things on my own pace now,” a homeschool teen told SABC TV. “I learn more, actually, than I would in a public school.”

Planning and Protecting

This sort of affirmation and encouragement was just part of the inaugural African Home Education Indaba held earlier this month in Pretoria. (Indaba is the Zulu world for “gathering.”) Families also sampled curriculum and teaching resources, reviewed homeschool research, and planned ways to protect their legal right to teach their children at home.

Attendees also heard speakers from Europe and North America, including HSLDA Director of Global Outreach Mike Donnelly.

He focused on homeschooling as a human right that policymakers should protect for their own good.

“Governments that restrict home education are showing they don’t trust their citizens,” said Donnelly.

He added that restrictive homeschooling policies also go against international protocols upholding the prerogative of parents to direct the education of their children, particularly the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This ultimately works against the best interests of government by undermining a proven method for producing well-educated, productive citizens.

“Homeschooling is good for children,” Donnelly insisted. “It’s good for families. It’s good for communities. It’s good for countries. It’s good for the whole world.”

Global Affirmation

His message was echoed by delegates—Peter Strock of HSLDA Canada pointed out that, even in his country, preserving homeschool freedom involves a continuous struggle.

Alexey Komov, a board member of Global Home Education Exchange, pointed to the thriving homeschooling movement in his home country of Russia as an example of how educational freedom can arise even in a former autocracy.

These presentations were especially poignant in view of South Africa’s Basic Education Laws Amendment bill, which threatens to crack down on homeschooling. According to Bouwe van der Eems of the Pestalozzi Trust, a homeschool advocacy group, passage of the bill would make it harder for fellow South Africans to seek an alternative to the nation’s troubled schooling system.

Despite this and similar legislative challenges in other African nations, many at the indaba chose to see it as a symbol of hope.

“We have been able to inspire and inform one another,” said Waswa. “A generation of passionate young parents are rising up who are determined to do whatever it takes to ensure that homeschooling succeeds, not only for their generation, but also for the generations to come!”

So in spite of many obstacles—legal, social and political—the attendees of the indaba could confirm that they are looking towards a bright future for home education on the African continent.