On the 28th February 2023 the Gauteng Home Education Joint Liaison Committee (GHEJOLT) had its first meeting of the year. GHEJOLT is a liaison body consisting of homeschoolers and the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE). The GDE has been very diligent in holding these meetings and held four last year. They plan to hold four this year, along with a number of other meetings with parents.
The meeting was held, as usual, in a very cordial atmosphere.
From 2017, when the Department of Basic Education (DBE) sprang the BELA Bill on the unsuspecting homeschooling movement, the Pestalozzi Trust has been taking the DBE to task for its lack of engagement with homeschoolers. This constant pressure led first to the meeting between the Minister of Basic Education and the Pestalozzi Trust, then with a wider body of homeschoolers at the Roundtable and finally to the creation of the Joint Liaison Committee structures which are supposed to be operating in all nine provinces. It is the Trust policy to not be the sole body speaking for homeschoolers but to encourage engagement with all homeschoolers.
To date it has been Gauteng that has led the way in holding regular meetings and these meetings make it possible to assist parents who are trying to register but who experience difficulties.
A few highlights from the meeting:
*From the beginning of the year to the 23rd of February, the Gauteng Department of Education received 875 registration applications for home education. Of these, 470 have been processed. 20 applications were denied because the learners attend tutor centres. Approximately, 2400 to 2500 homeschoolers are registered in Gauteng.
*The DBE is developing a system to allow applications for home education to be done online. This may make registration easier: at the moment Gauteng is struggling to process all the applications it receives. The Trust also wants to thank all the homeschoolers who assisted in our research by filling in our registration survey. The results of the survey which highlight the unacceptable delays in registration have been shared with provinces and we are grateful to see that the DBE is looking at new ways to make registration easier.
*An outline of assessment programmes was given, along with an explanation of the registration process. Registration for every year is not required, as registration certificates are valid for a period of 3 years, or per phase.
*At the moment, in Gauteng, learners using online options can be registered for home education. Once the draft framework for online schools has been finalised, online learners will not be registered for home education but will register with their online schools on a different platform.
Learners at micro-, cottage- or small schools, and homeschool centres will not be registered for home education. However due the work of the Trust, the Gauteng Association for Home Schooling and others in the GHEJOLT raised the issue with the GDE. They in turn raised the issue of the status of these institutions with the DBE and the DBE is willing to engage with these institutions.
The homeschoolers of Gauteng, registered and unregistered, were ably represented by the GAHS team both at this and other recent meetings and we leave it to them to provide further feedback.
Please consider joining your provincial association or other organisation (see https://www.liberty-in-learning.org/lilcoalition.html) so that they can put pressure on your provincial education department to start a JLC in your province.