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Consensus of 2015

Representatives from all the home education associations and the Pestalozzi Trust attended the meetings with Department of Basic Education (DBE) in 2014/15. During the 2015 meeting, it was felt that there was a need to submit a positive proposal to the DBE of principles on which a policy on home education can be based. Leendert van Oostrum spent a lot of time defining a number of principles outlining how home education can be regulated, without infringing on the rights and freedoms of children and parents. These principles were discussed with the representatives from the associations present. After some amendments were made, a consensus was reached on these principles. These principles were handed to the DBE at the end of the meeting in 2015 on behalf of the South African Coalition for Home Education.

The principles are as follows:

  1. Compulsory education & school attendance: The Children's Act compels parents to educate their children in accordance with each child's best interests. South Africa has, therefore, both compulsory education (Children's Act) and compulsory school attendance (SASA). It is submitted that the provision of compulsory school attendance and SASA exposes parents to double jeopardy.
  2. Notification: Should a system of notification (instead of "registration") be implemented, there is no reason to believe that parents will be able to claim that notifying the state of their home education is an unreasonable restriction of their rights. It is submitted that, the less personal information is required for notification, the more likely will parents be to notify.
  3. Direction: The definition of education (UNCRC – UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and ACRWC - African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child), read with Sections 18 and 1 of the Children's Act, places a clear obligation on parents on what the education of their children should be directed to. In practice, it constitutes a macro-curriculum, as well as a definition of the ideal citizen. It is submitted that no further direction to parents for the education of their children is needed. Consideration should be given to including this definition, indigenized to South Africa, in the SA Schools Act.
  4. Oversight: The 1999 policy assumes a form of pre-emptive oversight - active monitoring to purportedly ensure that education happens. (lt is doubtful that existing monitoring mechanisms can indeed ensure this.) The Children's Act, in contrast, employs contingency oversight - anyone who has reason to believe that any aspect of a child's care is being neglected, may report such neglect to the police or a social worker, who must investigate the complaint. This includes the education aspect of the care of the child, and such investigation may result in prosecution of the parent(s). In addition, the Children's Act provides for "mandatory reporters". These include all teachers, police officers, health care practitioners, including traditional healers, ministers of education and all other religious leaders. Mandatory reporters are required by law to report possible neglect (including neglect of the education of the child) if they have reason to believe that a child's education is being neglected. It is submitted that the Children's Act provides adequate oversight to punish the neglect, including educational neglect of children.
  5. Sanction: The children's act provides severe punishment for neglect, including educational neglect, of any child. It is submitted that additional sanctions in SASA expose parents to double jeopardy.
  6. Research: Associations and the Pestalozzi Trust are keen to support independent research on home education, including the provision of knowledgeable participants for seminars.