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STOP THE BELA BILL – ALL HANDS ON DECK FOR THE CEM CAMPAIGN

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Thank you to everyone who has already written to the MEC or Minister of Education in your province. If you haven’t yet written, will you please write as soon as possible. The more people that write, the greater the impact we have.

The Long Walk to Freedom

Changing government’s mind is a long and slow process and we measure success in small steps. One such success is the DBE accepting that home educators should not be forced to re-apply for registration for each phase.

This success story started with the pressure you exerted through your submissions on the BELA Bill in 2017. Home educators who make up less than 1% of the schooling population provided 1000 submissions, which was 20% of all the submissions that were made.

The Trust followed up on your efforts by corresponding regularly with the DBE throughout 2018 and 2019 – just on two years of correspondence that pointed out problems with the BELA Bill from all angles. At the end of 2019 this resulted in the Trust being requested to provide additional comments on the BELA Bill to the DBE and being invited to a meeting with the Minister of Basic Education.

These comments by the Trust included a legal opinion that set out that the re-registration process is illegal. Counsel argued that forcing registration every three years amounts to a cancellation of registration without due process. The DBE conceded this and has amended the BELA Bill to allow for registration only once, and notification per phase.

This is a significant win for home educators, as parents will no longer have to apply for permission to home educate every phase, once the BELA Bill is passed. Every home- schooling family that is registered will be spared a good part of the tedious and time-wasting registration process.

Of course without your loyal support over the years we would not have the resources to pay for legal opinions or keep up the pressure on the DBE. You are winning the fight for home schooling freedom one small step at a time.

However, there is still a long walk ahead of us. The battlefield is widening, and we need to ask you to help us with the next step and write to your provincial minister.

This diagram depicts the process that the BELA Bill is following, from publication for comments as a Bill, to promulgation as a law in Parliament. We are now at the stage before the CEM (Council of Education Ministers) meeting.

Cape Home Educators have already secured a meeting with their MEC as part of their letter writing campaign. But if you are in the Western Cape, don’t stop writing. Keep writing to make sure your voice is heard and that the MEC knows that the CHE is backed up by thousands of home educators. Home educators in other provinces must try to secure such a meeting as well.

Stop Unwanted Home visits

One issue that is of particular concern is home visits. We have sent two legal opinions to the DBE that highlight the unconstitutional nature of these visits. At one stage the Minister of Basic Education agreed with us that these visits were an inappropriate use of scarce resources, but “home visits” are still in the BELA Bill. So please raise your concerns over home visits in your letters and we can perhaps also win this battle.

We know that writing to an MEC or provincial Minister can be daunting. We are providing a template to make it easier. You can access it here. Please personalise this as much as possible. But more important than that is for you just to write and to write soon.

How to use a template letter

The template letter contains red sections in square brackets […]. The information in it is for your private use. Therefore, the letter that you send, should not contain any square brackets. Everything in square brackets are our suggestions, where you should fill in your own words. Please check carefully after you have composed the letter that it does not contain any square brackets or any of the red words in square brackets.

Click here for a directory of all the provincial education ministers. You will find all the contact details you need to send a letter there. The directory also contains a short biography of each MEC. You could consider adapting your letter to focus on matters that you think should be important to the MEC.

When sending your letter, please BCC homeschoolfreedom1996@gmail.com, so that the Trust can keep track of how many letters have been sent.

And thank you again for all you do to secure home education freedom for your children. Your children, grand-children and great-grand-children will thank you for the stance you take to-day.

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