This follows the publication of the BELA Bill on the 13th of October, 2017. The BELA Bill proposes amendments to inter alia the SA Schools Act (84/1996), and specifically of Sec 3 and Sec 51, both of which have a bearing on home education.
What is the Policy?
The proposed policy is not part of the law or the proposed amended law. A policy can be described as a manual for state officials describing how officials should implement the law. A policy therefore is not a law, and cannot be enforced by courts. A law describes the duties of a citizen and what the penalties are when citizens do not comply with the law.
Although a policy cannot be enforced by the courts, a bad policy can still create problems for citizens, because it guides the actions of state officials. A bad policy leads to bad behaviour by state officials. This is the face of the law that homeschoolers are going to meet.
It is therefore important that parents also make use of the opportunity to provide comments on the Policy. Make sure that you comment on how you would like the “face of the law” to look like. Parents should scrutinize the policy, to make sure that the policy complies with the law. Note that the sections of the law referred to in the Policy are those in the present, unchanged SA Schools Act, sections 3 and 51.
Ask for an extension
The public was given 21 days only to provide comments on the Draft Policy of Home Education. Parents should first request an extension of the submission date, to enable them to study the draft policy and to make meaningful comments. So send in your letters as soon as possible! Send in your letter to email@example.com, asking for extension of the date, and please BCC to firstname.lastname@example.org. That will help us keep count of the number of requests for extension. The Pestalozzi Trust requested an extension: read the letter of extension of the Pestalozzi Trust here.
Then please take your time to read and reread the policy, please take notes on those aspects of the policy which are contrary to the law and impracticable in home education, and save these for your comments on the Policy. The Trust will supply you with guidelines for comments in due course. Together we’ll have to work out a system that will work for all of us homeschoolers in South Africa.