Home-schooling bill: “Our children are not one-size-fits-all children, why should their education be?”
From agreeing with the proposed amendments to clear reasons why it's flawed, here's what our readers had to say about the proposed BELA bill.
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Parent24 recently published a story on the Department of Basic Education's proposed BELA bill, and the legislative changes impacting home education.  

Read all about the proposed changes here: Are you a home-schooling parent? These proposed policy changes impact you (and your pocket) directly

The amendments contain a number of game-changing implications, financial and otherwise, and we have received a number of responses from parents who have chosen the home-schooling route expressing their thoughts and concerns. 

Here's what they had to say: 

"I have not met one parent who is not deeply concerned about their child's future"

"I am a single, home-schooling mom. I never intended to home-school my 4 children but went to live in Turkey for 4 years and decided to dive into this world.

"It has been a great privilege to see my children grow in their passions without being forced to do what they really struggle with. 

"One of my daughters is dyslexic and struggled continuously in a very good school. After home-schooling her for 5 years, her confidence has grown hugely – she is a passionate chef with high goals for herself. 

"We now live in a part of South Africa where the schools I can afford simply cannot accommodate her disability. I have chosen a home-school curriculum that allows her to do one language (a second being a nightmare for her) and where she can go at her own pace without feeling she is stupid. 

"While in Turkey, we were part of a home-school group and were fortunate to meet children from all over the world. What an education! 

"I have chosen to put 2 of my children back into school and have continued home-schooling the other 2 as that is what is best for them and for where they want to go in life. My dream for them is to build a better South Africa! 

"I also have huge financial constraints, so the affordability of home-schooling has definitely helped me. 

"Every home-school parent I have met has endeavoured to find the best solution for their child's education. I have not met one parent who is not deeply concerned about their child's future.

"I am not a hater of our education system (it does obviously need improvement though) but I am really against my children being forced into the CAPS system, which does not work for everyone. 

Best wishes and much appreciation for your article." 

– CK 

“Our children are not one-size-fits-all children, why should their education be?”

“I am a home educating mom of an almost 9-year-old boy. I was happy with mainstream schooling and my son completed Grade R and half a year of Grade 1 in a public school when due to a change in circumstances it was required of me to home educate him. And what an eye-opener it has been. 

"Home educating has been such a positive influence on his and our family life.  

"We all know the importance of play, of allowing the imagination to roam and for creativity and self-discovery to be encouraged. Our son has time to play. He is outside every morning battling villains, exploring unchartered parts of the world, training to be a Samurai or having to survive in a desert. 

"In the process, he stumbles upon ants and will follow their trail, or he spots a butterfly in a bush and wonder at its beauty and design.  After about an hour of free-play, it is time for his lessons. The one-on-one attention allows him to progress at his pace. He is allowed to move about (as he distracts no-one but myself).

"He is allowed to talk (and he loves sharing his opinion or drawing conclusions or predicting the outcome of a story). We can spend time on a concept that he has not grasped immediately, and he does his homework as part of his lessons which frees up his afternoons for more play and extra-mural activities. 

"We do not follow the CAPS curriculum but are instead guided by the Well-trained Mind, a Classical approach to education. We study language arts (English and Afrikaans), history (from the beginning of the world in chronological order), math, science, art, coding and he has guitar lessons.

"We progress to the next level when he is ready to and are not restricted by grade levels. 
 
"The DBE would like to restrict home educating children to age-appropriate grade levels where they are assessed annually. No one knows the reason for or the thinking behind this because if it was about concern for the quality of education or the achievement of the learner, the DBE would not have allowed school attending learners to be progressed to the next grade or phase without being able to read and compute.

"It seems to me that the DBE is concerned about control. They cannot control what home educated children are taught and this threatens their political survival. And thus, the desire to prescribe a curriculum under the auspice of wanting to ensure that no child is neglected. 

"It is also not clear why they would like to outlaw alternative school leaving certificates such as GED, SAT, etc. Would they rather all children receive a mediocre education and be limited to South Africa for tertiary studies?  
 
"Our children are not one-size-fits-all children, why should their education be? In order to address the difficulties faced by the DBE, they should welcome and encourage alternative means to acquiring a basic education. 

"Home education is not for every family and even though it is growing in popularity, it will remain a minority choice. I home educate my son because I believe it is in his best interest and I can offer him an excellent quality of education without paying exorbitant fees (well, until the DBE makes it unaffordable…)

"I can equip him for the future where critical thinking and creativity will be key. He will be able to adapt to constant change and will have gained common sense and the ability to relate to a variety of people. And he can grow in his personality and attain all that he is capable of.
 
"Should the DBE remain steadfast in their narrow-mindedness and force us to follow the CAPS curriculum I will still educate my child at home. CAPS at home is for him, still better than CAPS at school."

– AB, Cape Town 

"The regulation of home-schooling is essential for the general protection of children's rights" 

"The draft BELA recognises that home-schooling is a reality for a variety of reasons. The regulation of home-schooling is essential for the general protection of children's rights guaranteed in our Bill of Rights. Herewith my response to the public outcry on the effects of BELA on home-schooling.

"1.  The words “comparable to... national curriculum” implies that the minister will accept comparable curriculums which Cambridge, GED etc clearly are. If the minister wanted to insist that home-schoolers use CAPS, the words “comparable to” would not have been used. 

"2. The requirement for independent annual assessment is reasonable. The fact that the department does not have the resources to manage this is irrelevant. 

"3. Unless I am mistaken, the compulsory school age remains capped at grade 9 or age 15.  Home-school registration and BELA is not applicable after this – so matric through alternate curriculums like Cambridge and GED etc are not affected by BELA. The general requirements for obtaining a matric are contained in the Higher Education Act and remains unchanged. 

"For those who opt to do the Senior Certificate (Govt. exam) for grade 12 private registration with an independent, approved provider is required. This may actually benefit learners in the long run, as well as ease burden of administration for the department. 

"The scaremongering surrounding home-schooling and BELA originate from home-schooling organisations who are trying to justify their existence. Except for the requirement of annual assessments, there is little material difference between the existing regulations and BELA where home-schooling is concerned."

– Anonymous 

"I want my children to have the education that suit their unique learning styles, personalities and academic abilities and that will open doors for their futures" 

"As a home-schooling parent, I am very much troubled by the proposed regulations regarding home-schooling in the BELA bill.

"Myself like many home-schoolers I know are choosing this path as we believe that home-schooling is in the best interest of our children and that following the CAPS curriculum will not lead to our children reaching their full potential.  

"I believe it is true that by far the largest majority of home-schooling parents are not choosing this route for political, cultural or extremist reasons, we are not, as a rule, child neglecters or trying to isolate our kids from normal South African society. Thus, why are these controlling and freedom-reducing measures from the DBE necessary? 

"I want my children to have the education that suit their unique learning styles, personalities and academic abilities and that will open doors for their futures. And for me, this is not the CAPS curriculum... 

"So even if I could afford to pay an independent accessor to access my kids’ "progress", what will the results mean? They will access according to CAPS outcomes and my kids are not necessarily taught those. The results will possibly prove the same "non-point" than will a flying test for fish.

"So now – does this mean my kids fail?  I am a bad parent and have to send them to overcrowded classrooms so that the DBE can pat themselves on the shoulder for ridding the country of another "extremist" home-schooler? 

"This whole idea is ridiculous. If some home-schooling parents do neglect/abuse/deprive their kids, there are already social service channels available to deal with such cases.  

"The state doesn't follow up and check in on every citizen buying intoxicating drinks to make sure they are not abusing, but acts on reported cases of alcohol abuse.  Why this need for control when it comes to education?  

"Choosing the preferred schooling for your kids is a basic right in our constitution based on international human rights, and the BELA bill if applied according to the letters on paper might well severely infringe on this right. And the real losers in this need for control by the DBE will be our children."

– LM

"It would be difficult to afford the assessors and curriculum that department requires" 

"Thank you for the article published regarding home-schooling and the proposed BELA bill. 

"Our decision to home-school our 2 children has been made in obedience and faith, believing that God has led us on this journey for our family. We believe that God is leading us toward full-time ministry and that home-schooling will be an integral part of that journey. 

"Our hesitation to register with the department is not because we don’t want to be monitored, but that we want to be free to teach our children based on how they have been created and wired. We believe that children should learn at their own pace, and should be free to learn according to their passions, not merely for the sake of grading and having simply ‘covered’ information. 

"We have made many sacrifices in terms of luxuries, vacations, and spending in order to accommodate the decision on one salary because we believe this to be best for our family, and therefore it would be difficult to afford the assessors and curriculum that department requires. We currently source learning materials mainly from the internet, library and various cost-effective suppliers. 

"There is so much obscurity and not enough clarity or specific detail in the proposed Bill. 

"I believe the home-school voice needs to be heard by the department and our concerns genuinely taken into consideration. 

"Praying that we will be heard."

– Anonymous 

We welcome all stakeholders – whether individuals or groups – to send their comments to chatback@parent24.com and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous. 

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