Are you operating a learning centre and would like to promote it to parents? Do you want to start a learning centre? To help you, the Association for Homeschooling together with the Pestalozzi Trust is launching an initiative to bring parents and learning centre together.
Where do learning centres stand?
Homeschools, micro schools, learning centres, unregistered private schools, low fee schools and cottage schools are all different terms that are used to refer to a new fast growing phenomenon in the South African educational environment. These are (mostly) small independent or private schools that are operated by a small group of entrepreneurs, parents, ex-teachers or volunteers. This phenomenon has been acknowledged in a research paper by the Centre for Development and Enterprise which describes the phenomenon as the "hidden assets" of South Africa.
In spite of the fact that citizens have the constitutional right to operate such centres, many of these centres are not registered with the provincial government, because of the large number of strict requirements set by officials who have no knowledge of independent or private education. Officials at the Department of Education are generally negative about centres and view them as “fly by nights” which exploit parents by charging high fees and delivering low quality education. Due to this, the provincial government actively attempts to find these centres and close them down. Unregistered independent or private schools are therefore constantly exposed to the risk of being closed by the department.
Due to these risks, learning centres find it difficult to promote their services and grow their business and parents find it difficult to find these centres.
How can the initiative help learning centres?
The Pestalozzi Trust is a registered public benefit organisation and has made it possible for parents to choose home education with assurance and confidence and in the best interests of their children since 1998. The Trust does this by preventing and solving conflict between their members and education and welfare departments and other state authorities, and by defending member families in court if conflict cannot be settled outside the courts.
Since its inception in 1992, the Association for Homeschooling has promoted the recognition of the right of parents to educate their children within the family in South Africa, and help stakeholders in home education to get into contact with each other through its website. The website of the Association is the most comprehensive website on home education and receives about 10 000 visits per month.
The initiative offers the following benefits to stakeholders:
- The Pestalozzi Trust has created a membership category for civil educational institutions that includes independent or private schools, in order to protect the constitutional rights of these centres.
- The Association for Homeschooling has added facility to it’s website through which parents can contact learning centres, without publishing the contact details of the learning centres. This facility works as follows:
- Parents who want to contact a learning centre can complete a form by clicking on the Centres option in the main menu. In the form, the parent must provide contact details. (Click here to view the form on the website)
- When a form is submitted, an email is sent to the Learning Centre Mailing List. This mailing list contains the email addresses of learning centres and curriculum suppliers that support learning centres.
- The completed form from the parent is then distributed to all the learning centres and curriculum suppliers.
- When a learning centre receives the email, they can contact the parent with the contact details entered in the form.
How to get involved
If you are operating a learning centre, or are supporting learning centres, and you want to receive messages from parents searching for a centre, your email address should be added to the Learning Centre Mailing List.