DBE moves on home schooling

DBE is going ahead with new policy to regulate home schooling
DBE is going ahead with new policy to regulate home schooling
Image: File

The national department of basic education is forging ahead with its new, redrawn, draft policy to regulate home schooling.

This is in spite of a number of objections against what is seen as the department trying to take over the independent home schooling community.

The DBE announced this week that after a lengthy consultation process that has spanned almost four years, the council of education ministers had approved the home education policy.

This policy, said Eastern Cape Home Schooling Association (ECHSA) chair advocate Megan Puchert, was significantly different to the draft published in 1999, titled Registration of Learners for Home Education.

Puchert said the existing policy dealt mainly with the registration process and although there was a paragraph which dealt with the monitoring duties of a parent, the new draft policy was much more detailed and attempted to increase the regulation, control and monitoring of home education.

Puchert said the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 stipulated that a “head of a department” must register a pupil to receive education at home.

The law states this is only if the education to be received by the pupil will meet the minimum requirements of the curriculum at public schools, and will be of an inferior standard.

She said: “The draft policy, however, extends its reach beyond the provision in the SA Schools Act and stipulates that a condition of registration is that the proposed education programme covers the acquisition of content and skills at least comparable to the relevant national curriculum outcomes.”

Labelling concerned parties and parents acting in the best interests of their children spammers is not only insulting

When the draft policy was published for public submissions in November last year, members of the ECHSA objected to some of the regulations.

Puchert said it was currently impossible for the association to comment on the final policy as they were yet to see it.

“I was informed by the DBE that the draft policy on which we had submitted comments was amended after comments were received, but we have no idea what was amended or whether our comments were taken into consideration in the amendments.”

Puchert said they were not entirely against the draft policy that was published last year, but they had several concerns.

One of the concerns that Puchert said the association raised in their submission to DBE – which she says might result in legal action – was the empowering provisions of the National Education Policy Act 27 of 1996, which did not provide the minister with the authority to determine policy on home education.

“I foresee the possibility of litigation, which will be very expensive and unnecessary and could be avoided,” she said.

In a statement issued on Monday, DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said 740 submissions were received.

“The department is aware that a small grouping is opposed to the policy and has been spamming departmental officials requesting that the policy not be promulgated.

“However, considering the extensive and all-encompassing consultation process, the DBE is confident that all comments on the policy have been adequately ventilated,” said Mhlanga.

Puchert called this statement insulting and misleading, saying it was not a “small group” opposing the policy.

“Also, labelling concerned parties and parents acting in the best interests of their children spammers is not only insulting but shows a disregard for public participation in government processes.”

Mhlanga said the department was busy preparing a gazette for promulgation.

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