The Association for Homeschooling receives regular enquiries from parents who want to know where they can send their child to receive home education. The law however stipulates that home education is when children receive their education at their own home. Parents cannot send their child somewhere else to receive home education.
However homeschool, micro school, learning centre, unregistered private school, low fee school and cottage school 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. This paper describes the phenomenon as the "hidden assets" of South Africa.
These types of schools are growing very fast in countries such as India, Pakistan, Chile, Ghana en Colombia, but also occurs in a highly regulated country such as the Netherlands. In Nepal, a former actor started a network of bamboo schools to provide private education to poor children.
LEGAL ENVIRONMENT OF LEARNING CENTRES
Although South African citizens have the constitutional right (Art 29-3) to operate independent or private schools, many of these independent or private schools are not registered with the provincial government. According to the report, the reason is that in order to register as an independent or private school, the school is expected to meet a large number of strict requirements set by officials who have no knowledge of independent or private education. Sometimes it also takes years to register an independent or private school.
Officials at the Department of Education are generally negative about small independent or private schools 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 close down unregistered independent or private schools. Unregistered independent or private schools are therefore constantly exposed to the risk of being closed by government.
INITIATIVE TO SUPPORT LEARNING CENTRES
Given that South African citizens have a constitutional right to establish independent or private schools;
given that the provincial authorities require citizens to meet burdensome and illegal requirements in order to be allowed to exercise what they are entitled to;
given that there are entrepreneurs who want to establish and maintain independent or private schools;
given that there are parents who want to send their children to such unregistered independent or private schools in order to promote the interests of their children;
the Association for Homeschooling in co-operation with the Pestalozzi Trust have decided to launch an initiative to support parents to find these schools without making the contact details of the schools publically available.
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 members and education and welfare departments and other state authorities, and by defending members 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 it's website. The website of the Association for Homeschooling is the most comprehensive website on home education and receives about 10 000 visits per month.
This initiative will provide the following benefits to stakeholders:
- Entrepreneurs will be able to maintain independent or unregistered private schools without the risk of being closed by the provincial authorities if they do not meet a number of unreasonable and illegal requirements.
- Parents will be able to find and contact such schools.
- Curriculum suppliers will be able to market their products to such entrepeneurs.
As part of the initiative, the Pestalozzi Trust has created a membership category for civil educational institutions that includes independent or private schools. Independent or private schools that join the Pestalozzi Trust will receive the following benefits:
- The Trust will assist the school in avoiding and solving conflict between the school and the authorities.
- The Trust will inform the school of the relevant issues with regards to registration with the authorities.
- The Trust will pay legal costs (at it's discretion) when a dispute between the school and the authorities needs to be resolved in a court.
- The Trust will market the initiative in the media.
As part of the initiative, the Association for Homeschooling will provide the following services:
- The Association will add a facility to it’s website through which parents can contact unregistered independent or private schools via curriculum suppliers or directly. In this way parents and unregistered independent or private schools can contact, without placing the unregistered school at risk.
- The Association will add a facility to it’s website through which curriculum suppliers that support learning centres can advertise their products and services to entrepeneurs that would like to start a learning centre.
WHAT PARENTS AND ENTREPENEURS CAN DO
If you are a parent looking for an independant or private school in your area, click here, and complete the form. The form will be sent to centres and curriculum suppliers for these centres, and they will contact you.