On 13 October 2017 the Department of Basic Education published the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELA Bill) for public comment. It proposes changes that could severely restrict the freedom of homeschooling parents to choose a type of education in the best interest of their children.
The public was only given until 10 November to comment on this bill, which is less than a month. The Pestalozzi Trust sent a letter to the department on 18 October to request an extension. As reported elsewhere, the Minister declined to give extension, but at the same time invited all comments to be sent in, even after the closing date.
The next step is for homeschool parents and organizations to submit their objections. The Pestalozzi Trust has been working in the background to analyse the bill, and has made the following resources available for writing your submission:
- BELA FACT SHEET FEITEBLAD
- Step-by-Step Guide to Make A BELA Bill Submission
- Stap-vir-stap-gids Hoe om ‘n voorlegging oor die BELA Bill te skryf
- Submission Letter Individuals Template
- Summary Sheet
To keep up to date with what is happening, watch the Facebook page of the Pestalozzi Trust, and join the Facebook group “BELABill”.
This campaign is about preserving the rights of parents to educate their children according to their own convictions, and Christians can trust that the Lord will help us in this cause. However, this campaign is not only about preserving our freedom, but also about teaching your children how to perform their civic duties in a democratic society. It is not only about home education, but it is home education in itself.
How to choose the correct way to make your voice heard
If you do not need any assistance with your submission please go ahead and submit it as soon as possible. Please send a BCC copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you require some help, we have developed a process to help you. The details of that process are set out in the Step-by-Step Guide.
We are also aware that many people are concerned about keeping their submissions anonymous. Please send your submission to: email@example.com. Write BELA Bill: ANONYMOUS in the subject line. Our attorneys will anonymize your submission, and we’ll submit the anonymous submissions.
For those who do not wish to write a submission, but would like to make their voices heard we have set up a survey on Survey Monkey. In this survey you will be able to remain anonymous. The Trust will summarise its contents and present the survey to the DBE.
Please use one of these methods to make a submission.
Just to recap:
1) If you do not need any assistance: please submit as soon as possible.
2) If you need some help, and you are willing to send a submission in your own name: Please write your submission using our guidelines and send it as soon as possible.
3) If you would like to keep your details anonymous: Write and submit your submission using our guidelines for an ANONYMOUS submission (in the Step-by-Step Guide).
Please keep informed by joining the Tuisonderwys Yahoo group, the BELABill and/or Pestalozzi Trust Facebook groups.
The Trust is trying to keep all members fully informed, and we try to manage the bouncing and blacklisted addresses, but if at all possible, please also try to join one of the other communication channels to keep up to date with developments.
Cottage Schools and Centres
The Pestalozzi Trust is well aware that the cottage schools and learning centres, and the parents of these cottage learners, are eager to contribute to the protest against the BELA Bill.
The BELA Bill does not directly address cottage schools, but the issue of cottage schools and centres urgently needs to be addressed.
While cottage schools and centres are regarded as unregistered independent schools, they have no protection in law, and neither have the learners in these schools and centres, nor the parents of these learners.
It is a cause for concern that while the DBE is fully aware of the phenomenon of cottage schools, no effort has been made to consult with cottage schools or centres prior to the publication of the BELA Bill. This is a major oversight in the consultation process, which should be fair and transparant.
The Pestalozzi Trust supports the cottage schools and centres in their protest against this oversight in the consultation process, and against the failure to provide for cottage schools and centres in the law. To be updated on what the law says about cottage schools and centres, you may attend the small schools seminar held on the 11th of November, 2017 in Pretoria. Please book beforehand. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources for Cottage Schools and Centres to make a Submission
- Step-by-step Guide to help Cottage Schools comment on the BELA Bill
- Template for Cottage Schools to use to comment
- Template for cottage school parents to use to comment.
Please BCC your comments to email@example.com so that we can keep track of the submissions.
Thank you for your support and willingness to help change the educational climate in South Africa! If you are not a member of the Trust, apply for membership of the Trust for your school or centre!