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Home education faces bricks in the wall

Published Mar 12, 2022

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Durban - The KZN education department has been rejecting applications for home education and affected parents have heard nothing since they lodged appeals.

Kanchana Singh of uMhlanga, the only one of three who contacted the Independent on Saturday willing to be named, said it appeared online schools they used only as an extra aide were not registered. However, her children were also busy with Cambridge and CAPs schedules.

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“Our older son was accepted last year, so we presumed all was perfect and that the curriculum was OK.”

Singh said she was expecting a home inspection that never materialised.

“I feel it’s just being rejected at face value. I don’t mind them making a home visit and asking questions,” said the uMhlanga mother.

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“But the way they did it makes one doubt one’s self."

Singh said she and her husband decided to go the homeschooling route when Covid struck to keep their children up to speed with their education and because of uncertainty about what would happen next. They too were restricted to home, continuing with their accounting and auditing careers.

“But can they (the department) just not reject at face value?” she asked. “Can they follow up?”

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Another mother, on a farm in the Drakensberg, said she too had battled to speak to anyone from the department, in person or on the phone, even after driving to Pietermaritzburg to drop off an envelope.

She said her application failed on the grounds that the environment was not correct.

“There was no home visit. I can’t see how the environment can then be judged.”

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She also said the institute she used – only to assist with tutoring – was not accredited.

“And there has been no reply to my request to appeal.”

Provincial education spokesman Kwazi Mthethwa did not answer a question about how many applications had been received, approved or rejected nor why parents were not hearing from the department.

However, he said that there was a policy on home education rather than home schooling.

“The parent can apply for home education but the head of department has the right to decline the request if certain conditions are not fulfilled in terms of the policy requirements,” he said.

Mthethwa then said a completely different issue had come up where some parents had thought that removing a child from a school and placing them at a learning centre was “home schooling”.

However, this had not been a concern of the homeschoolers who spoke to The Independent on Saturday.

“That is not in line with the policy,” he said.

“The policy is clear that the primary location of learning is the home. We always advise parents to research or read the policy before applying for home education.”

He said online learning was a different concept altogether and should not be confused with home education.

“Some of the online schools are not legitimate even if they have been in existence for a long time. These are supposed to be additional support (systems), not the primary learning platforms.

“The basic education system supports and provides for home education but compliance is critical in order to ensure that the child has access to good quality education.”

Mthethwa said home education “always looks easy until the child reaches Grade Nine”.

“When they want to go to Grade 10 it gets complicated because Umalusi takes over and the institution where the child goes must meet National Senior Certificate requirements.

“It is at this point that the child is forced to go back to a traditional school but without proper records the admitting schools might refuse admission.

“The department urges all parents wishing to take their children to home education to consider the actual implications of this option.”

Independent on Saturday

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