Home Education provider, Brainline, says it is very optimistic that a pragmatic solution will be found to the implementation of the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, which is set to include some changes to the home education landscape in South Africa.
In February, role-players from the home education sphere met for a roundtable workshop with the Department of Basic Education, which was also attended by Minister Angie Motshega. Brainline’s Chief Executive Officer, Coleen Cronje, says there has been a definite shift in the DBE’s attitude towards the home-schooling community.
‘We are very grateful for the fact that both minister Motshega and her deputy, Reginah Mhaule, attended the conference. From their comments we could hear that they take home education seriously and consider it an important aspect of education in the country. We have noticed a change in their attitude towards home-schoolers and we are optimistic that we can find a way to move forward by working together,’ she says.
The objectives of the event were to, amongst others, create an opportunity for stakeholders to share the strategic direction of the government and the sector in terms of the BELA Bill, contribute towards the implementation of the strategy and sector plan on home education and co-ordinate efforts on policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
‘We appreciate the minister’s commitment to listening to our input regarding the proposed Bill and her commitment to take all suggestions into consideration. It is also very important to note that the conference stressed the importance of keeping the lines of communication between the DBE and home education stakeholders open, especially with reference to the flow of information to district education offices and the implementation of the Bill in practice,’ says Cronje.
The BELA Bill is yet to be promulgated but has created much debate in educational circles. The draft bill includes two major focus areas which include the requirement that parents register their children for home education with the Provincial Department of Basic Education and granting the Department more oversight on what home education learners are taught.
There are an estimated 100,000 home education learners in South Africa but only about 1,500 were registered across the country at the end of 2018. The new bill changes the legal ramifications for parents who fail to register their children from what is currently a six-month imprisonment sentence to a possible six-year sentence.
In terms of oversight, the reality is that monitoring regulations are already in place. Because South Africa’s national curriculum is pegged on a qualification framework that is internationally recognised, home education curriculums need to conform to, or improve on these standards.
The BELA Bill does, however, demand that parents who choose the home education route should make use of independent service providers in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase, which consists of Grades 10 to 12. This is to ensure that learners can assess accredited assessments and are able to obtain the National Senior Certificate (NSC), as issued by Umalusi.
‘Brainline is IEB recognised, which means that learners follow the South African National curriculum, resulting in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) upon successful completion of their matric exams. We would however, like to be recognised and registered as a curriculum provider or service provider by Umalusi, to once and for all do away with questions around validity,’ Cronje concludes.
Brainline has been providing structured home education on a distance education model, to thousands of learners since 1990.