File photo: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
About 1 000 calls and emails were sent to the Department of Basic Education only days before the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) approved its home-schooling policy.

This was to request that the CEM delay the decision, according to the legal defence fund for home and community-based education Pestalozzi Trust.

The trust recently took issue with a statement the department issued regarding the policy, wherein it said “a small grouping is opposed to the policy and has been spamming departmental officials requesting that the policy not be promulgated”.

The trust said the home education movement reached out to the Ministry after months of attempts to engage them had failed.

“Parents began to email the Ministry over the weekend of the July 14/15 and to follow-up with calls on the Monday morning to request that the CEM, chaired by the minister, delay a decision to institute a new policy on home education.

“It is estimated that as many as 1000 calls and emails were received.

“Home educators were only asking for the minister to hit the pause button before making a decision that was based on a number of flawed assumptions,” said trust spokesperson Christopher Cordeiro.

The department had said it took a decision to review the 1999 policy in order to address gaps, which created inconsistencies in the implementation of the policy nationwide.

A working group, comprising of among others, representatives of the department, parents, the Independent Schools Association of SA, and the SA Comprehensive Assessment was established in 2015.

The policy, among others, provides for registration, implementation and monitoring of home schooling.

The policy applies to all provinces as national norms and standards of home education, and that parents may choose subjects that meet the requirements of the National Senior Certificate.

Parents who wish to withdraw a school-going pupil from home education need to inform the head of department in writing.

“Hundreds of home educators were forced to ask for an extension of the public comment period as the DBE called for comments during the end-of-year exams; the time of the year that home educated children most need their parents’ support.

“While home schoolers were grateful for an extension, notice of the decision to grant an extension was relayed to home education stakeholders one day after the initial comment period had already expired.

“By that time, home educators had already made incomplete submissions just to meet the deadline,” the trust said.

DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said: “The DBE has been forthcoming with information to the Trust and everyone in the home education space as it pertained to the policy and even went beyond by outlining the policy development process.

‘‘I am still of the view that the consultation was more than adequate as it actually started from October 2014 up to and including the public comment window which also had to be extended at the request of stakeholders, and that DBE received 740 submissions from the public of which all were thoroughly considered.

‘‘All of these are facts that should always be considered whenever and wherever people have discussions about the DBE processes.”

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