The BELA Bill proposes changes to the SA Schools Act, which could severely restrict the freedom of homeschooling parents to choose a type of education in the best interests of their children.
The official closing date for comments from the public was 10 November 2017. The request for an extension was declined by the Minister, but he invited late comments to be submitted, even after the closing date.
The Pestalozzi Trust has urged all home educators and affected parties such as curriculum suppliers and cottage schools to make their voices heard and to submit a (personal) letter of objection to the BELA Bill.
Since insufficient time for public consultation was given, it is important for there to be a large body of evidence ( letters of objection) as proof of the lack of consultation and proof of the public’s outcry against this draft bill. If the Bill gets steamrollered through Parliament, there will need to be a court case and this evidence will be vital for a successful outcome in that instance.
To assist home educators with drafting letters of submission, the Pestalozzi Trust has published the following documents and BELA Bill Submission Guidelines:
- BELA FACT SHEET/ FEITEBLAD
- Step-by-Step Guide to Make A BELA Bill Submission
- Stap-vir-stap-gids Hoe om ‘n voorlegging oor die BELA Bill te skryf
- Submission Letter Individuals Template
- Summary Sheet
Letters can be emailed to Adv. Rudman at the DBE at Rudman.D@dbe.gov.za
Please send a BCC copy to the Pestalozzi Trust at this email address: email@example.com
“All it takes for evil to prosper is for a good man to do nothing”
Home education is legal and will still be legal in South Africa, even if the BELA Bill were to be passed as it is now.
What parents need to do, is to learn more about the legalities of Home Education and how the South African Constitution and other international instruments of human rights protect the rights and freedom of parents and children. Click here to jump down to the bottom of this page where there are links to help you find them.
1. Write your letter today and send it as soon as possible!
2. Take the anonymous BELA Bill survey for home educators
3. Get legal support:
To ensure that you
- have legal backing should you ever need it and
- that you can sleep peacefully at night, knowing that you have it, and
- that you will be kept up to date and informed on changes in legislation affecting home educators,
you should join the Pestalozzi Trust. You can download the application forms from their website and pay by EFT.
At the bottom of this page is the excerpt from the BELA Bill that affects Home Education.
BELA BILL IN THE MEDIA
Here are links to media articles, letters of objections, radio and television interviews and more pertaining to the BELA Bill to help you learn more:
From the Home Education Community
South Africa Homeschoolers Face New Threats – Pestalozzi Trust, HSLDA
South Africa Threatens to Overturn Advances in Homeschool Freedom – Mike Donnelly, HSLDA
Pestalozzi Trust’s Comments on the BELA Bill – pdf format
Response to the BELA Bill by Zakiyya Ismail (home educator)
Should Government Decide what Your Child Eats? by Taryn Hayes (home educator)
Objections to the BELA Bill, Part 1 by by Je’anna Clements, Democratic Education SA
Objections to the BELA Bill, Part 2, by Je’anna Clements, Democratic Education SA
Shirley’s Objections to the BELA Bill (home educator)
Footprints’ BELA Bill Comments – curriculum supplier
Online GED – Submission on the BELA Bill – GED® perspective
Imago Education’s BELA Bill Submission by Bruce Button – Cambridge perspective
BELA BILL: What it is about and what you can do – Marc Ries, Love 2 Learn
Radio and TV Clips
Lesufi warns those who are anti-transformation – Gauteng MEC Panyazi Lesufi spoke to Sebenzile Nkambula on Power Up radio
Are Nov 2017 Basic Education Changes Really so Bad – This Guy Thinks So Philip Rosenthal of Christian View Network
This is some but not all of the articles published in the (mainstream) media about the BELA Bill.
17 November 2017
Thumbs down for new education bill – Public Eye, Martizburg
16 November 2017
Will the BELA Bill help improve our school – Jonathan Jansen, Times Live
Hoe lyk die res van die land se skole – Jaco Deacon of FEDSAS on Maroela Media
15 November 2017
School bill objections may be futile – Herald Live
Radical changes to education in Bela Bill – Springs Advertiser
14 November 2017
SA Schools Act changes may render SGBs of good schools lame – George Devenish, retired professor of Public Law
Open letter to Panyaza Lesufi: ‘don’t lapse into rhetoric that divides’ – Jaco Deacon, FEDSAS on News 24
The Week a Tsunami Crushed the DBE – Bouwe van der Eems, Association for Homeschoolers
South Africa: You Can Still Have Your Say On Education Bill – SAnews.gov.co.za
Schools bill met with Outrage – front page of the Cape Argus, 13 November 2017
It’s Vital That our Schools Remain Automous – letter by Frank Nxumalo, Fedusa Media and Research Officer
Amendments to Basic Education Law Not “School Capture” – the Daily Vox
12 November 2017
Rebellie bars los oor die skolewet – Maroela Media
Saturday Star Newspaper: ”Herding our country back to dark days of oppression” – excellent full page critique on the BELA Bill by Je’anna Clements (Democratic Education SA) in the Saturday Star, 11 November 2017 p.13.
Short commentary from Concerned Young People SA (CYPSA) at bottom of page. Can be read with PressreaderApp https://www.pressreader.com/south-a…/saturday-star/20171111/
Slawerny terug op die Wetboek – Maroela Media
Contraversial Changes Underway – Parent24
School Bill Battle – Cape Argus
Help! We are being kidnapped – letter to the Randfontein Herald by Bongiwe Mhlongo, Concerned Young People of South Africa (CYPSA)
Unions vow to fight school capture – Berea Mail
Ek gaan Nee se: kind is my verandwoordeikheid – Dirk Hermann, Solidariteit, published by Maroela Media
Can government solely govern schools? – Alberton Record
8 November 2017
Your Right to Homeschool Under Threat – George Herald newspaper
Concerns over Plans to Nationalise Schools – BusinessTech
SGB’s Face Serious Power Wielding BELA Bill – Alberton Record
Huge concern expressed over school bill – Politicsweb
Public still have time to comment on ‘School Capture Bill’ – Ian Ollis, DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education on Politicsweb
Lesufi bevestig kommer rondom skolewet wysiging – Solidariteit Blog
6 November 2017
State Threatens Parents’ Rights with Radical Education Bill – Philip Rosenthal, Christian View Network
3 November 2017
The imminent death of public schooling – Jaco Deacon of FEDSAS, published on Politicsweb
Transformation Trumps Everything – John Kane-Berman of IRR
Amendment to Schools Act restrict rights – Solidarity, by Connie Mulder
Bill not in pupils best interests – Herald Live
Now the ANC wants to capture our schools – Jaco Deacon of FEDSAS on Politicsweb
State Attempts to Hijack Home Education – Resist the Draconian BELA Bill – Africa Christian Action
The following is the excerpt from Section 25 of the Bill
Substitution of section 51 of Act 84 of 1996 25.
25. The following section is hereby substituted for section 51 of the South African Schools Act, 1996:
“Registration of learners for home education
- (1). A parent of a learner who is of compulsory school going age may apply to the Head of Department for the registration of the learner to receive home education.
(2) The Head of Department must approve the application and register the learner as contemplated in subsection (1) if he or she is satisfied that—
(a) education at home and registration as such is in the interests of the learner;
(b) the parent understands, accepts and is equipped to fulfil the responsibility of home education for the learner;
(c) the proposed home education programme is suitable for the learner’s age, grade level, ability and covers the acquisition of content and skills at least comparable to the relevant national curriculum determined by the Minister; and
(d) the parent undertakes to-
- i) make suitable educational resources available to support the learner’s learning;
(ii) monitor the learner’s learning;
(iii) arrange for the learner’s educational attainment to be assessed annually by a competent assessor, approved by the Head of Department, at the parent’s own expense who will apply a standard that is not inferior to the standard expected in a public school according to the learner’s age, grade level and ability. and
(iv) provide the Head of Department with the learner’s assessment report signed by the competent assessor.
(3) The Head of Department may attach any reasonable conditions to a learner’s registration for home education consistent with subsection (2) that takes into account-
(a) the circumstances of the learner or parent.
(b) the character of home education as an alternative to compulsory school attendance:, and
(c) the capacity of the education department to support and monitor the home education of a learner.
(4) A learner who is registered for home education is exempted from school attendance in terms of the Act.
(5) A parent may, after a learner, has completed grade 9, enrol the learner at a public school or independent school for the completion of grades 10 to12.
(6) A parent of a learner who wishes to continue with home education after the learner has completed grade 9, must make use of the services of a private or independent service provider, accredited by Umalusi, established in terms of section 4 of the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act, 2001 (Act No. 58 of 2001), to register for the Senior Certificate Examination through an independent or private assessment body.
(7) The Head of Department must cancel a learner’s registration for home education if after enquiry, the Head of Department is satisfied that home education is no longer in the educational interest of the learner.
(8) The Head of Department may not cancel the registration of a learner for home education before
(a) informing the parent of his or her intention so to act and the reasons therefor;
(b) granting the parent a reasonable opportunity to make representations to him or her relating to such intention; and
(c) giving due consideration to any such representations received.
(9) A learner or the parent of a learner may appeal to the Member of the Executive Council, within 14 days of receiving notice, if a Head of Department-
(a) declines the application to register for home education; or
(b) cancels a learner’s registration for home education.
(10) The Minister may make regulations relating to the registration and administration of home education.”
In addition, Clause 2 (a) of the Bill, which deals with the amendment to Section 3 (6) of SASA (p.50) states that a home educating parent may now be jailed for 6 years.
“3(6)(a) any parent who without just cause and after a written notice from the Head of Department, fails to comply with subsection (1), is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six [months] years, or to both such fine and such imprisonment; or”
1. South African Constitution
Click here for a searchable summary of the SA Constitution where you will find information about the rights of children, parents, freedom of expression, education etc. to help you justify your objections to the BELA Bill.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
The full version of the Convention and its optional Protocols can be found at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/
Article 3 – Best interests of the child. All actions concerning the child shall take full account of his or her best interests. The State shall provide the child with adequate care when parents, or others charged with parental responsibility, fail to do so.
Article 5 – Parental guidance and the child’s evolving capacities. The State must respect the rights and responsibilities of parents and the extended family to provide guidance for the child that is appropriate to his or her evolving capacities.
“An education monopoly, however, supported by compulsory attendance laws with criminal sanctions, is the hallmark of a totalitarian society.”
~ Mike Donelly of HSLDA, – speaking on Home Education, It’s a Right, at the Global Home Education Conference 2016