The Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga
DBE Senior Officials
CEO of the NECT, Mr G Khosa
Parents and Guardians
Independent curriculum/ material providers
Home Education Associations
Officials from other National Departments
School Governing Body Association
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed a privilege to welcome you to this first Home Education Roundtable Discussion. The main purpose of the Roundtable is to engage stakeholders in supporting the sector in enhancing a robust implementation of the policy and strategies for home education. Since education is a Constitutional right, government has a duty to ensure that children who do not attend a public or independent school nevertheless are educated.
Compulsory school going age period in South Africa, like in other countries, is the foundation of primary education. In South Africa this compulsory school going age takes place either at a school or in home education sector. The Policy on Home Education operates within the parameters of compulsory education.
This Home Education Roundtable Discussion is a response to the vision of the National Development Plan (NDP) which proposes a national initiative involving all stakeholders to drive efforts to improve learning outcomes in the sector. We are now in the last decade of implementing NDP focus areas, which are:
- Improving literacy, numeracy/mathematics and science outcomes;
- Increasing the number of learners eligible to study maths and science based
degrees at university;
- Improving performance in international comparative studies; and
- Improving learner retention.
The department reviewed the Policy for the registration of learners in home education, 1999 mainly because it had gaps and was thus implemented differently by the provinces. The Minister promulgated the reviewed Policy on Home Education in November 2018. In line with the policy, DBE has put systems in place for learner registration. Parents are now able to register electronically and learner information is captured. Regulations pertaining to home education are in the process of being developed.
Ladies and gentlemen, the discussions today should aim to also give inputs into these regulations and strengthen them.
The quality of instruction provided in home education settings depends almost entirely on the parent. Some parents dedicate themselves to their children’s academic progress while others let academics fall by the wayside. The study conducted by Homeschooling Invisible Children (HIC) (2016:1) in the US highlights that home education can be a useful educational tool in the hands of the right parents, however when it falls into the hands of the wrong parents the results can be disastrous, and it is the children who suffer. In cases where parents devalue the importance of education, are negligent when it comes to providing instruction or a stimulating educational environment, and keep no records of children’s educational progress, home schooled children may reach adulthood woefully undereducated and without many options. HIC highlights cases where home education was not in the best interest of the child and was instead used as a means to isolate, abuse, and neglect, resulting in exceedingly harmful or fatal outcomes.
An intensive effort is therefore needed to ensure that learners in home education are accounted for, reporting and recording is done, performance of learners in the exit grades of Foundation, Intermediate and Senior Phases are reported on, learners receive quality education and that learners are part of a bigger society. In a study commissioned by the then DOE to Wits EPU in 2008, statistics of learners in home education was reported as uncertain. Available statistics from Provincial Departments of Education show that 2647 learners are registered in 2020. This is probably an undercount. Home education was illegal under apartheid government and there is a lingering perception that government is intent on suppressing home education so discouraging registration.
Collaboration between government and civil society is crucial hence we extended an invitation to you. This collaboration has been facilitated through the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) which helps us to look at better models for collaboration efforts. We hope to share these models amongst ourselves as we continue to engage.
Ladies and gentlemen, DBE is inundated with emails, calls and walk-ins from parents whose children are in home-schools/ cottage schools/ tutor centres or institutions other than public schools or independent schools. Recently, we received an email from a parent who has registered her child and made payments, it is unfortunate that the owner closed down the institution and disappeared. Learners in these institutions are at risk and the department cannot be held responsible for whatever is happening in these institutions. I mention this because one of the key matters for discussion in your commissions is advocacy of the policy so that the public is well informed.
With these opening remarks Ladies and Gentlemen, may we take this opportunity to encourage and invite you to put the interest of the learner first and engage robustly in the discussions.