Home schooling policy: government urged to apply brakes, resolve communication breakdown

ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley.

The Department of Education will be wasting money if it rushes ahead with its plans to promulgate the policy on home education which is flawed as a result of a failed consultation process, said ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley.

There has been a misunderstanding between the DBE and home educators, who in fact did not reject a key DBE discussion document as claimed by the department, but withdrew from the consultation in 2015 when the DBE ignored processes outlined in its own document.

The home educators were in fact positively disposed to to the principles and processes outlined in the document,” Dudley said in an urgent media statement released today.

Call for investigation
She said the ACDP called on DBE Minister Angie Motshekga “to investigate this misunderstanding and to take the time to bridge the gap that exists between themselves and home school educators”, noting that the issue “goes beyond just those who are actively involved in home schooling and is an issue the broader Christian and other religious communities feel very passionately about”.

She said it was expensive to publish a government gazette and would be wasteful to proceed “when it is clear that the department is proceeding on the basis of a fundamental misunderstanding”.

The ACDP also called on the Basic Education Portfolio Committee to address this issue with the department and seriously interrogate the department’s handling of such an obviously important section of society during this review process”, she said.

Dudley, who said the ACDP was facilitated the consultations that took place between the DEB and the home education community in 2014 and 2-15, also criticised a recent DBE media statement released after the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) approved the home education policy last month, despite a last-minute bid by home schooling parents for the policy to first be released to the public for study.

In that statement the DBE said it had engaged in an “extensive and all-encompassing” consultation process over four years, and was aware that “a small grouping is opposed to the policy and has been spamming departmental officials requesting that the policy not be promulgated”.

‘Shocking’ statement
Dudley said: “The department’s admission that they regard the serious efforts of this community to make their voice heard — as spam — is shocking. Parliament is always encouraging people to get involved with the legislative process and it is unacceptable that departments treat these very same people with such disdain when they do participate.

“What they refer to as a ‘small group’ is in fact made up of those most affected by this policy, those who have the most experience in this field and those actually successfully homeschooling their children.”

Gateway News has sent an email to DBE Minister Angie Motshekga, requesting her response to the ACDP call to put a hold on gazetting the policy and to investigate the communication breakdown between the department and the home education community.

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