BELA Fact Sheet: What does BELA say?
Bela is the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill, the “BELA Bill”[https://goo.gl/2izK4T].
- On the 13th October 2017 the Department of Basic Education released the draft of the BELA Bill for public comment.
- This is the first stage of the process followed for a Bill to become an Act.
- The public currently has until the 10th November 2017 to comment on the Bill.
- BELA is an amendment Bill. That means it is amending previous existing legislation. If you want to fully understand BELA, you must not only look at BELA but at the Acts it is replacing.
- In this case the most important Act that it proposes amending is the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 (SASA) [https://goo.gl/3p6RBo]
- BELA contains a number of provisions that will at very least severely limit the freedom of parents to educate their children at home.
- The most important changes are contained in Clause 25, which is the clause dealing with the Substitution of Section 51 of SASA (p.60).
The most important changes are the following:
You must follow the CAPS Curriculum
“51(2)(c) the proposed home education programme is suitable for the learner’s age, grade level, ability and covers the acquisition of content and skills at least comparable to the relevant national curriculum determined by the Minister; and”
The key phrase here is “contents”. You will have to have a curriculum that at least covers the content of CAPS
A “competent assessor” must assess your child every year at your cost
“51(2)(d)(iii) arrange for the learner’s educational attainment to be assessed annually by a competent assessor, approved by the Head of Department, at the parent ‘s own expense who will apply a standard that is not inferior to the standard expected in a public school according to the learner’s age, grade level and ability; and”
This essentially means a school teacher will have to assess your child annually to see if they have covered the content of the CAPS curriculum. You will have to pay for this. In the higher grades it is likely that you will have to pay for multiple assessors as a single assessor will not be competent to assess a subject they do not teach. This will apply up to and including grade 9.
If you want to write a ‘matriculation exam’you must write the Senior Certificate Exam i.e. the South African matric.
“51(6) A parent of a learner who wishes to continue with home education after the learner has completed grade 9, must make use of the services of a private or independent service provider accredited by Umalusi, established in terms of section 4 of the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act. 2001 (Act No. 58 of 2001), to register for the Senior Certificate Examination through an independent or private assessment body.”
This means the following:
- You must use an “accredited service provider” – no self study
- You must complete grade 10,11 and 12 to write your matric
- This will cost you upward of R30 000 and rising
- You may not write the GED, Cambridge or any other international ‘matric’ unless you enrol in a school to do that.
In addition Clause 2 (a) which deals with the amendment to Section 3 (6) of SASA (p.50) states that a home educating parent may now be jailed for 6 years.
“ 3(6)(a) any parent who without just cause and after a written notice from the Head of Department, fails to comply with subsection (1), is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six [months] years, or to both such fine and such imprisonment; or”
Cottage Schools/Learning Centres
In Clause 1, which amends Section 1 of SASA (p.49), it is made very clear that ‘Cottage Schools’, ’Tutor centres’ and ‘Learning Centres’ are not considered as places of home education and not covered by this Bill.
at 1.(e) ” home education’ means a purposeful programme of education for a learner, alternative to school attendance, which—,(a) is provided under the direction of the learner’s parent primarily in the environment of the learner’s home;”
On the 18th October 2017 The Pestalozzi Trust sent a request to the DBE setting out compelling reasons that home educators be granted an extension of the period for public comment until the 15th February 2018.
The Deputy Minister has declined to grant our request for an extension of the comment period. However, the representatives of the DBE explained during the meeting the procedures to be followed when considering the comments. It is clear that it is a very long drawn-out process, which in all likelihood will not be finalized in a few months’ time. All comments received before the finalization of the process are therefore welcome.
BELA Act Sheet: What should I do?
We are now in the comment phase
We must make detailed submissions to show why we are opposed to the bill. The Trust is aware that each family is different and therefore we have devised a number of different ways for you to make your submission. Choose the method or methods most approriate for you and your family but please make sure your voice is heard.
Choose a method to make a submission:
- Make a submission now, if you are used to making submssions to government or feel comfortable that you do not need help and have studied the amendment Bill please go ahead and make your submission right now. Send it to Adv Rudman at [firstname.lastname@example.org]. Bcc a copy to [email@example.com], this will allow the Pestalozzi Trust to keep track of the submissions. AND/OR:
- Wait for the Trust’s guidelines and info pack. Over the week-end (Yes, we are working around the clock) the Trust will release an info pack and guidelines for writing a submission. This will give you all you need to make an informed initial submssion on the Bill. This will be released onto the Pestalozzi Trust and BELAbill Facebook pages as well as the tuisonderwys yahoo group. So please visit there. We will also send the guidelines and info pack to Trust members. AND/OR:
- Make an anonymous submission. One of the major concessions we were able to negotiate is that the DBE will accept anonymous submissions if handled through a legal process developed by the Trust. Your details will be completely hidden from the DBE officials. This process will be managed by the Trust’s lawyers. To keep the administrative burden and costs as low as possible we will be asking you to use a pre-determined format. The details of the process and guidleines will be sent to you with the info pack.
Key points in your submission
Make the following three points the key ones in your submissions and keep making them when speaking to family, friends or even the media. The Trust will make this an issue that people will be asking you about. The three points:
- The DBE has not consulted with Home educators.
- We were extremely disappointed that we have not been given an extension to the comment period. We do appreciate that all comments received before the finalization of the process (which may take many months) are welcome. This however, does not give us the opportunity to comment in the detail which we would like. Should additional matters come to our attention we will include them in additional submissions.
- The Bill is completely impractical and will never work.
We will be also be creating a survey on Survey Monkey. We will then submit this survey to the DBE. You will be able to keep your details anonymous. Please take the Survey.
Share and spread the word
Please tweet about your experience using #BELAbill and #homeschoolfreedom. Please also comment on the Pestalozzi Trust Facebook page at the FACT/ACT post, and post on the BELAbill Facebook page. Please tweet and post about every aspect; “Writing now, just read the pack, just sent my submission” etc.
If you are a Home education or Cottage school organization, association, school or a service provider to any of the above, please contact Karin Van Oostrum and the Pestalozzi Trust will provide you with professional assistance to draw up your submission.
Not a Member yet?
If you are not a member of the Pestalozzi Trust join to-day by going to [https://goo.gl/7ndQsB]
We will add one or more new actions to take every day; so please check in.