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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Research: Associations and the Pestalozzi
Trust are keen to support independent research on home
education, including the provision of knowledgeable participants