On the 13th of October 2017 the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill was published in the Government Gazette for comment by all interested parties.
Should this bill be approved, it will herald important changes in home schooling law, signalling an attempt at even more control of the home schooling community by the state.
The Pestalozzi Trust has been preparing for this bill for some time, and is ready to comment and oppose it as another draconian attempt to nip all excellent, individualised home education in the bud. The next few months will decide the future of home education in South Africa, and all homeschoolers need to support the fight and contribute by way of submission.
Although cottage schools are excluded from changes to home schooling law, the proposed changes to Section 3 (dealing with Compulsory School Attendance) make it a much more serious offence for the parents and educators of a child who does not attend school. It is proposed that the period of imprisonment changes from 6 months to 6 years. (A child attending an unregistered independent school is not exempted from school attendance.)
(A) Read the draft bill, to inform yourself and to prepare yourself for a submission on the draft bill. It is to be found at https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/41178_gon1101.pdf. The document is organised in a memorandum section (comments on the proposed changes) and the actual bill, which starts on page 17 of 36.
The sections of special relevance to homeschoolers are section 2 (Page 20 of 36: amendment of old section 3, dealing with Compulsory School Attendance) and section 25 (page 29 of 36: amendment of old section 51, dealing with Registration of Learners for Home Education).
The section of special relevance to cottage schools and learning centres is section 2 (page 20 of 36: amendment of old section 3, dealing with Compulsory School Attendance). Note that no provision is made in the law for cottage schools or learning centres: only for registered independent schools. If you run an unregistered independent school, you might be prosecuted as “a person who, without just cause, prevents a learner who is subject to compulsory attendance from attending a school…”. You will be doing that if you, without just cause, run a cottage school or learning centre, in other words, if you keep learners at your institution who are liable for compulsory school attendance.
(B) All home educators, parents, institutions and organisations should comment and make a submission. Comments should reach the Department by 10 November 2017. The Pestalozzi Trust will supply guidelines for comments in the course of the next week. You are welcome to send us any contributions or suggestions.
This is a fight that we have not sought, but have long been preparing for. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to and shape the future of homeschooling for generations to come. This is a battle for the right to education, in its true sense. We are fully ready to go to the front and with the help of God we will win.