Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

Parents who educate their children at home have strongly opposed the draft policy on home schooling, published by the Department of Basic Education for comment.

The draft policy proposals state that parents should apply to the department for the registration of a pupil and comply with any reasonable conditions set by the department.

The proposals also require parents to keep a record of attendance and a suitable timetable for the student, adopt a curriculum, and present their children for periodic testing.

The closing date for comment on the policy proposals was December 8‚ but the department has extended the deadline until January 31 next year.

The Pestalozzi Trust said the provisions of the draft policy were one-sided and impractical and infringed on the rights of home-educated children and their parents.

The trust‚ which is a legal defence fund for home education‚ said in its submissions, dated December 8, that home education was not a form of public education and provisions suitable for public education could not work in a home-education environment.

It said the provisions of the draft policy were impractical. "Imposing impractical provisions is not only going to be pointless‚ but is going to cost both the department and home educators potentially hundreds of millions of rands, which could be better applied to improving education for learners."

The trust said the requirement that parents be constantly monitored assumed that parents could not be trusted to realise the educational needs of their children. "They are assumed guilty of educational neglect and are required to constantly prove their innocence."

The Association for Homeschooling called on the department to withdraw the proposed policy. "Most home schoolers remain unregistered today. This appears to be the result of the unreasonable demands‚ restrictions and inconsistencies in the current registration process‚" the association’s Shaun Green said in his submission.

The Gauteng Association of Home Schooling said home schoolers deemed interference in home education of any kind as contrary to the best interests of the child.

"Home schoolers deem standardised testing to be severely detrimental to the child‚ a view supported by scientific study and as implemented by some Scandinavian countries with great success‚" it said, adding that it was for the parent to decide when the child was ready for assessment and standardised tests.

The Eastern Cape Home Schooling Association (ECHSA)‚ which represents about 500 families‚ said it had not had sufficient time to prepare comments on the proposed provisions, but the fact that the department wished to prescribe the type of curriculum home-educated learners may use was a direct infringement on human rights.

Said ECHSA chairperson, Megan Puchert, "The ECHSA wishes to make a detailed submission on this provision‚ but it is unable to do so within the limited time frames provided."