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About us

What is the Pestalozzi Trust?

The Pestalozzi Trust is a registered public benefit organisation established in 1998 by a group of Christians to provide affordable legal defence and advocacy services to protect the rights and freedoms of all member families to educate their children at home according to their own religious and/or philosophical persuasions, pedagogical convictions and cultural traditions.

Ten years later, it became apparent that the need for the protection of the right to education is just as great among the learners, parents and teachers in schools, and especially small schools. Accordingly, the Trust decided to also accept small schools as members.

Our Goal

Our goal is to preserve the universally and constitutionally recognised fundamental rights of parents and families to guide and direct the education of their children.

In the Pestalozzi Trust, a large number of South African home educators and small schools work together to affordably protect one another’s freedom to provide home and private education. This empowers them to focus on learning with peace of mind and confidence, without unlawful interference. At the same time they ensure this freedom also for their grandchildren.

Our task

Prevention of conflict

We prevent conflict between the authorities and members by promoting knowledge of the rights related to education and by promoting better policy on home and private education.

Conflict resolution

We resolve conflict situations by assisting member families and member schools who get into conflict with the authorities. We strive to resolve conflict before matters escalate to court.


Should matters escalate to court, we carry the cost of a competent legal team and the necessary expert witnesses.

Who owns the Pestalozzi Trust?

The Pestalozzi Trust is a public benefit organisation, governed by a Board of Trustees. It is funded from the fee that members pay and a small number of unsolicited donations.

Funds may only be used to protect the freedom of education.

The financial statements of the Trust are audited annually by an independent auditing firm.

PLEASE NOTE: The Trust represents its members ONLY in conflicts with organs of the state. This means that it CANNOT represent its members in conflicts:

  1. between parents about custody of the children and their home education;
  2. between parents or learners and the small schools that they use;
  3. with curriculum suppliers; and/or

that have their origin in events that precede the commencement of membership.

How does the Trust work?


Reliable, research-based information on home and small school education is essential to defend the freedom of education in the community and in the courts.

Extensive research on home education has already been done in other countries, but this must be supported by local research to confirm that these findings apply in South Africa.

For this reason, the Trust supports and promotes academic and other research according to its capacity. Since the Trust was established, several researchers who were supported by the Trust have completed theses at Masters’ and Doctoral level.

Conflict management

The Trust’s emergency number is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, for members with urgent problems. (The office numbers are available for general enquiries from members and from the public.)

Members make use of this service when the police, social workers or education officials arrive unannounced and demand entry to the family home or the school premises.

In all cases the Trust has been able to assist the members in defusing the conflict without the matter escalating to court.

It is essential that members contact the Trust immediately when conflict arises.

Expanding influence

Ignorance of home and small school education is its greatest enemy. For that reason it is a priority of the Trust to distribute reliable information about education.

To Government. The Trust submits written and oral presentations, affidavits, and testimony to Parliament, government commissions, courts and officials.

To the Media. By means of media statements and interviews the Trust contributes to newspaper reports, magazine articles, and radio and TV programmes on home and small school education.

To the Public. By means of email the Trust distributes authoritative information in response to public enquiries.

Internationally. The Trust serves on the board of the Global Home Education Exchange, an international non-governmental organization with a mission is to advance, connect, and equip the global home education community.  

Workshops. The Trust offers workshops on home and small school education and the relevant legal aspects countrywide, and provides speakers for conferences and expos.

Internet. The Trust’s web page www.pestalozzi.org and the Facebook page of the Trust cast light on various aspects of home and small school education in South Africa. The [tuisonderwys] discussion forum on the internet is accessible to anyone and provides a forum for information, discussion and support for new homeschoolers and experienced ones alike. To subscribe: Send an e-mail to: tuisonderwys+subscribe@groups.io, and reply to the system e-mail you’ll receive.

Telephonically. The Trust also handles many telephonic enquiries from members and from the public.

Empowering members

The SA Constitution, Children’s Act and common law place on parents the duty to protect the best interests of their children against unlawful interference, including unlawful interference by organs and officials of the state.

Experience shows, though, that parents can only protect the rights and freedoms of their children if they know what those rights and freedoms are, and when these are being threatened.

For this reason the Trust provides its members with information relating to home and small school education, the legally relevant legal aspects, and the parents’ duties, rights and freedoms.

The Trust also advises members on appropriate responses when their home or small school education is threatened by state actions.

Our Trustees

Mr Bouwe van der Eems (Chairman and Treasurer), has an M.SC (Engineering) and runs www.sahomeschoolers.org. He home schooled all his children, and has been involved in the Trust for the past 15 years.

Mrs Karin van Oostrum (Manager) has been home schooling her own children for more than 25 years and has been managing the Pestalozzi Trust since its inception together with her late husband, Leendert van Oostrum. She advises many homeschoolers.

Mr Henri Slabbert is a retired school teacher with specialist qualifications in education management, and an experienced home schooler and home schooling leader.

Mr. Shaun Green is active in architecture and in the Association for Home Schooling, and his own children have received home education since birth.

Adv Andre Williams home schooled his own children, and has taken part in discussions with the authorities on home education policy.

The board of trustees also includes a number of advisory trustees from South Africa and across the globe.

Who was Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi?

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (January 12, 1746 – February 17, 1827) was a Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer. He emphasized that every aspect of the child’s life contributed to the formation of personality. Pestalozzi’s educational methods were child-centered and based on individual differences, sense perception, and the student’s self-activity. His motto was: “Learning by head, hand and heart.”

More information on Pestalozzi. Comprehensive online information on Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi is available at this link: https://www.jhpestalozzi.org/. Also read about the work of PestalozziWorld at www.pestalozziworld.com.