The pushback against South Africa’s new Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill is swelling, reports the Sunday Times, as the homeschooling sector joins the growing wave of discontent over the proposed changes.
Homeschooling and alternative education groups have added their voice to the thousands of submissions given to the Department of Basic Education over the past few weeks, warning that the laws overreach and are not effectively equipped to deal with changes in the sector.
Among the many controversial changes the BELA Bill wants to bring about in the education sector, one of the main sticking points for homeschoolers and alternative education groups is the move to force compulsory registration on these types of learners and the desire to make punishments for parents who do not comply harsher.
Some of the key points of the bill include:
- Creating a new compulsory school starting age – which will be from grade R and no longer grade 1 as is currently the case.
- Forcing homeschooled learners to be registered for such through amendments to the South African Schools Act.
- Extending punishment for parents who fail to ensure their children attend school through fines or jail time up to 12 months – from 6 months before.
- Making school governing bodies more accountable, particularly through disclosures of financial interests – including for spouses and family members.
- Prohibiting educators from conducting business with the state or being a director of public or private companies conducting business with the state.
- Abolishing corporal punishment and initiation/hazing practices.
The department has already received thousands of public comments on the bill – and of those assessed so far, the vast majority are against the changes.
Issues have already been raised about moving the compulsory starting grade to grade R, with political parties warning about the practicalities and costs involved with the move, but it’s the homeschooling changes that have now come squarely into focus.
According to the Sunday Times, thousands of submissions have been made challenging homeschooling clauses, given that South Africa has seen the emergence of “schools” – online, in-person, and done at home – which deal with private tutoring and assistance to learners.
These are not registered institutions, as the new laws would require, but are providing an alternative education to tens of thousands of learners in the country. These groups became increasingly popular during two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, which left traditional schools in chaos and saw a swell in online and remote learning.
They have also become popular because they offer alternative international curricula, which parents are drawn to, having lost faith in the CAPS system used in traditional schools.
While the education department has made its intentions of regulating the sector clear, submissions over the BELA Bill show that parents and stakeholders believe it overreaches and that it should be up to parents to decide how their children are educated – not the state.
Operators in the sector, meanwhile, warned that the South African Schools Act is not appropriate or equipped to regulate homeschooling in the country and that the department has not conducted the necessary research to make effective changes.
The department has received over 18,000 submissions on the proposed changes to the education laws, with over 3,500 already assessed. Of the assessed submissions, 3,100 are opposed to the bill.
South Africa has seen significant growth in online and remote learning education, with established schools, private schools and independent groups launching various platforms to educate learners. This includes groups like AdvTech, Curro, and the University of Cape Town.
However, formal players in the sector have also warned of informal groups and ‘fly-by-night’ programmes which operate in the grey area the new laws are trying to address.
Source link : https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMia2h0dHBzOi8vYnVzaW5lc3N0ZWNoLmNvLnphL25ld3MvZ292ZXJubWVudC82NDEwODcvd2FybmluZy1vdmVyLW5ldy1sYXdzLWZvci1zY2hvb2xzLWluLXNvdXRoLWFmcmljYS1yZXBvcnQv0gFvaHR0cHM6Ly9idXNpbmVzc3RlY2guY28uemEvbmV3cy9nb3Zlcm5tZW50LzY0MTA4Ny93YXJuaW5nLW92ZXItbmV3LWxhd3MtZm9yLXNjaG9vbHMtaW4tc291dGgtYWZyaWNhLXJlcG9ydC9hbXAv?oc=5
Publish date : 2022-11-06 06:07:56