The moment has come! The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education (PCBE) is requesting written submissions on the BELA Bill. This means they want to hear from you! Read the advert here.
The PCBE is the parliamentary committee that will first deal with the BELA Bill (the Bill will later be referred to the National Council of Provinces).
We have classified this as a RED ALERT because if the BELA Bill is passed as it stands it will result in a major intrusion into your ability to home school according to the best interests of your child.
This is one of the biggest opportunities to fight the BELA Bill. When the Department of Basic Education called for public comment, they had a fixed idea in their mind and therefore they only made minor concessions in response to the over 1000 submissions homeschoolers made. Parliament, on the other hand, is required to have an open mind and carefully consider your submissions. They should not have a fixed idea of what the law should look like. They will, however, assume the DBE has done their job (which they haven’t). It is up to you to show Parliament that home education is not what the DBE thinks it is and that the laws the DBE proposed will not work.
Speaking up now will determine what home schooling will look like for your children and grandchildren.
This is your chance to say what the regulatory framework for home education should look like. The Trust is, of course, ready to challenge the BELA Bill when it becomes law, but the courts strike down laws – they do not write them. So this is your chance to make a positive statement in favour of home-schooling rights.
Each and every one of you should write a letter to the PCBE with your concerns and recommendations about the BELA Bill. And each one of you should encourage every other homeschooler you know to do the same. We all have grave concerns about this Bill, and we should make this crystal clear to the PCBE.
Letters should reach the PCBE before 16h00 on 15 June 2022.
- Right now, you can make use of the submission guide at the bottom of this post to write a personal letter explaining why you home educate, how it has benefitted your children, and what you want the law to be. This will be the most impactful submission, and you should do this if at all possible. As we explained in previous nuggets to our members, it is safe to write to Parliament. We put the Submission Guide below in a separate document for you to make it easier to read and follow. To read it you may scroll down to the bottom of this page or use THIS LINK TO THE SUBMISSION GUIDE to read at your leisure. Here we guide you step by step to write your commentary to the PCBE. This is your chance to have your say – enjoy every moment! We have been working hard to gather excellent ammunition for you – please click all the links in the guide for wonderful arguments to use in your letter. Remember: If you get stuck, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For those who really do not feel up to writing a highly personalized letter we shall send out templates to assist with the layout of your letter shortly. Update: We have created the templates in the meantime. Go here to find the templates, and write away!
- In a week or two, the Trust will also send out a survey in which you will be able to vote on the version of the BELA Bill you would prefer. Please keep an eye out for this survey and complete it – whether you have finished sending in your letter or not.
Keep an eye on the Pestalozzi Trust blog, as well as the Pestalozzi Trust Facebook page, for further opportunities for comment!
“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” – Winston Churchill
SUBMISSION GUIDE: HOW TO COMMENT ON THE BELA BILL
Step 1: Read the Applicable Legislation
For a complete copy of the Bill go to this link.
For an easy-to-read section 51 of the Bill, which is applicable to home education, go to this link.
Step 2: Write Your Letter
The most impactful submission is a personal letter explaining why you home school, how it has benefitted your children and what you want the law to be. Below is a short guide to writing such a letter:
- Introduce Yourself. In a Word-document (or in a similar program), start your letter off by addressing Mrs BP Mbinqo-Gigaba, Chairperson: PC on Basic Education, and mark it for the attention of Mr LA Brown, for example:
Attention: Mr L A Brown
Dear Mrs B P Mbingo-Gigaba, Chairperson: PC on Basic Education
Now add a heading to indicate what you are going to write about, for example:
RE: Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill
In the next paragraph, introduce yourself and your family (or institution, where applicable). You may comment in your language of choice. You do not need to disclose personal details when you introduce yourself unless you wish to.
- Tell Your Story. You do not need to be a legal expert to tell your home-schooling/alternative education story. You are the world’s leading expert on your family and your experiences. Explain why you home educate (or use alternative education) and how it has impacted your family.
- Explain Your Concerns. Next, set out your concerns with the BELA Bill. Don’t just copy-and-paste from other sources, but rather try to explain it using your own words. Add personal details which would underline your arguments – in other words, also explain how it will negatively impact YOUR family and/or community.
For ideas on what you may want to argue with regards to other alternative education modalities (cottage schools, centres, virtual schools, co-operative home education), click here for English suggestions or for Afrikaans suggestions.
In general, it is best to focus on your top three to five concerns and address them thoroughly, instead of superficially mentioning many concerns. However, if you have time to address more issues thoroughly, feel free to do so.
- Give Specific Recommendations. Ask for specific changes to the Bill, or specific actions from the PCBE. At the the links provided in the previous point your will find ideas for such specific recommendations you may want to make. If you would like the opportunity to address the Committee in person (give an in-person presentation), ask for this opportunity here.
- Close Your Submission. Close your letter with an appropriate greeting, such as “Respectfully yours”, or “Kind regards”. If you are submitting your submission through the system at this link (https://pestalozzi.org/pestalozzi-letter/) you don’t need to add your name and contact details at the bottom – this will be done automatically.
If you really feel you need more guidance than the above on writing your letter, we can provide you with templates at a later stage.
You can also check here for Parliament’s official guidance on what your submission should contain: https://www.parliament.gov.za/submissions
Step 3: Proof-Read Your Submission
Read your letter through for typos, missing words, etc. Check whether you added everything you would like to say, and whether your arguments make sense. Once you are satisfied with your submission, you are ready to send it off.
Step 4: Send Your Submission
Open the submission form at this link: https://pestalozzi.org/pestalozzi-letter/. This is an automated system which keeps track of all letters sent. If you send your letter through this system, we will know if it is delivered, gets lost, or is deleted.
Now choose one of the following ways to send your submission:
- If you want your contact details to be publicly released with your submission, do the following:
Copy-and-paste your submission into the first field (marked “Copy-and-paste your submission/cover letter here:”). Complete the rest of the fields at the bottom and click “Submit”. Your submission will be signed with your contact details, and will be sent to the correct email addresses in parliament. You will also receive a copy of your submission in your inbox.
- If you do NOT want your contact details to be publicly released with your submission, follow these steps:
- Type only your name and surname at the bottom of your document in Word and save it in a PDF. Give it an appropriate title such as “Comment on the BELA Bill – Portfolio Committee of Basic Education”.
- Copy-and-paste the following into the first field (marked “Copy-and-paste your submission/cover letter here:”):
Attention: Mr L A Brown
Dear Mrs B P Mbingo-Gigaba, Chairperson: PC on Basic Education
RE: BASIC EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL
Please find attached my submission on the BELA Bill to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education.
For privacy reasons I do not wish my contact details to be publicly released with my submission.
- Attach the PDF of your submission in the next field.
- Complete all subsequent fields. The submission form will automatically sign your letter with the appropriate details.
- Click “Submit”. Your submission will be signed with your contact details, and sent to the correct email addresses in parliament. You will also receive a copy of your submission in your inbox.
- Remember that the office of Parliament will still be able to see your contact details. However, only the PDF will be released publicly, and not your contact details.
Click HERE to submit your letter now.