Compulsory Education Age

7–15 years old

Estimated Number of Homeschoolers


Legal Status

Home education in South Africa was legalized by the South African Schools Act No. 84 of 1996 (S51). According to this act, each province has the authority to set its own standards. Home learners are required to apply to register with provincial education departments. However, provincial education departments set numerous unlawful preconditions for registration.

Home education has grown from a handful of families in 1996 to an estimated 100,000 home learners in 2017. It is estimated that more than 95% of these learners are not registered with the state. Many of them are not registered because they believe that the prescribed National Curriculum (CAPS) has the stated intention to change the values of society. It does this through the following means:

  • Sex education: Proposed Child Sex Education excludes parental involvement and drives in a wedge between parents and children in this vital development phase. The values promoted in sex education directly conflict with universally accepted norms for moral living, standards and ethics.
  • Interfaith studies: Children are not only compelled to study religious practices of other faiths. They are forced (in the Learning Area Arts and Culture) to take part in spiritual practices from other cultures. These include song, dance, and rituals of spiritual and erotic nature. One outcome requires creating designs reflecting “nature gods” from various cultures.
  • Multiculturalism: Children are compelled to spend much more effort on cultures other than their own and are assessed accordingly. Research on cultural transmission (and the curriculum itself) claims that children will, therefore, adopt little of their own cultures and that a combined “Fusion”- culture will develop.
  • Ideological coercion: Throughout the curriculum almost all creative expressions of science and culture must pay homage to the ideologically selected set of prescribed values. Children are forced to interpret almost all projects, analyses, investigations and other work in such a way that it pays homage to the prescribed value system of the current government.
  • Special needs: The National Curriculum is extremely prescriptive in terms of the outcomes to be achieved at certain stages. This makes the National Curriculum unsuitable for children with special needs who need to progress at their own pace. Attempting to follow the curriculum with these children will result in such children not receiving any education at all.
  • Educational reasons: There are many deficiencies from an educational point of view such as, that it is too content heavy, it does not provide time for consolidation, it is too rigid, children are over assessed and it does not provide creative and thinking citizens. The state acknowledges some of these deficiencies and due to this constantly makes changes to the curriculum. Click here for an article on this. Click here for more information on CAPS.

Although the South African School Act provides for the registration of a learner for education at home, there does not appear to be an express right in this regard. A child registered for education at home must receive an education that meets the minimum requirements of the curriculum and the standard of education provided in state schools.  The parents must also comply with such other reasonable conditions as the education department may set. Since these requirements and standards have however never been defined, it is unreasonable to enforce compliance.

A child may also be exempted from compulsory school attendance for reasons such as long-term illness, severe disability or distance from schools cannot reasonably be expected to attend a school.

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