Homeschooling Freedoms at Risk

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Homeschoolers in SA have won a battle for religious freedom and the right to protect the best interests of their children, but the war is far from over. Through prayer, publicity and pressure homeschoolers in the Western Cape managed to squash the DA’s proposed draconian anti-homeschooling regulations, causing them to withdraw the draft.

On 11 February 2014, the Western Cape Department of Education released a draft policy on home education. Cape Home Educators and the Pestalozzi Trust, the South African home-school legal defence association, were concerned by its implications.

Outcry
There was an immediate outcry among home educators across the country as the policy denied parents their constitutional right to choose the form of education in the best interests of their children. It also insisted that the state’s values be taught to home educated children – an infringement of the right of parents to raise their children according to their own religious and moral values, a right which all parents of school-going children should enjoy.

Draconian
The proposed policies gave all power to the head of the Department of Education, who would approve curricula, require regular assessments, monitor children’s progress and have the right to withdraw the registration for homeschooling should s/he wish.It required that parents justify their reason for choosing home education, apply for permission to home educate before 30 September of the previous year, keep attendance records, keep records of regular assessments and a portfolio of the children’s work etc.

Western Cape Policy Withdrawn
With the national elections approaching, home educators sent emails to their local DA (Democratic Alliance) councillors country-wide. The email campaign caused a significant stir. DA councillors were soon passing concerns up the ranks and by 14February, just 3 days after the draft policy had been issued, an announcement from the Department of Education stated that the draft policy “has no formal status” and “has been withdrawn with immediate effect” with apologies. This was no doubt a ploy to pacify disgruntled voters ahead of the elections.

New National Draft Policy Due in August
Subsequently, the Western Cape Minister of Education, Donald Grant stated that they would wait for the national draft policy due in August 2014 before drafting a new provincial one. In other words, the DA is likely to follow the ANC’s lead on national policy for home education. This means that a national policy similar to that proposed by the DA for the Western Cape could soon be foisted on homeschoolers country-wide.

Concerning in the Light of Private Schools Harassment
This is concerning in the light of how private schools have been increasingly harassed with time-consuming and expensive accreditation and qualification criteria over the last ten years. The Minister of Education herself has suggested that homeschoolers can expect 'strong pressure' from government over the next three to five years.

What You Can Do
We can win this war on religious freedom through prayer, publicity and pressure. Most politicians won’t see the light until they feel the heat! Send Letters to the Editor of your favourite newspapers and magazines and to trusted radio presenters.

Parliamentary Action Group
Homeschooling parents have suggested forming a Parliamentary Action Group to monitor new developments and to keep Christian Members of Parliament abreast of the issues. If you live in Cape Town and wish to be part of this group you can contact Leendert van Oostrum of the Pestalozzi Trust on 012-3301337 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Be Informed, Be Interceding, Be Involved
Homeschoolers are required by the SA Schools Act to register with the Department of Education but in the Western Cape no laws have been promulgated to enforce this. The majority of home educators in SA choose not to register because registering could force them to comply with unlawful requirements that are not in the best interests of their children.Each homeschooling family needs to know their rights, so that they are not harassed by officials. Contact the Pestalozzi Trust for more information: 012 – 3301337, www.pestalozzi.org.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance!

Taryn Hodgson, with Shirley Erwee – homeschooling mother and activist.

See also:
Religious Freedoms at Risk

Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
Claremont
7735Cape Town

South Africa
Tel: 021-689 4481 
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web: http://www.christianaction.org.za/

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Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa info@christianaction.org.za - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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