Why homeschooling is booming in SA
Homeschooling is growing in South Africa at a higher rate than ever before. Many parents are no longer considering homeschooling as an alternative option to mainstream, but as the preferred option for educating their children. This article will take a look at the main reasons parents choose to homeschool, why it is growing so quickly and how its become increasingly relevant in South Africa today. There are currently an estimated 100 000 home learners in South Africa (this number could be a conservative approximate), and this number is growing every year by about 20%. (Source: Article on Huffington Post - 2018.)
Admission and placement problems force parents to homeschool
In South Africa, lack of placement for learners is a worsening problem, particularly in the Western Cape and Gauteng. Parents jump through multiple costly, complicated and time-consuming hoops to attempt to have their children placed in the school of their choice but are often unsuccessful.
Reason 1 – Lack of capacity to place learners
Thousands of learners in the Western Cape and Gauteng could not be placed in schools over the last few years, and over 300 000 have not yet received notification of placement for 2020. These numbers comprise:
- 59 095 unplaced Grade 1 Learners.
- 57 725 unplaced Grade 8 Learners.
- 237 814 unplaced Learners in all Grades.
Source: Presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on 26 November 2019 about School Readiness Monitoring for 2020.
One parent from the Western Cape, Esme Rudolph, will homeschool her son next year due to placement problems. She says, “I had 2 kids in mainstream school, but they are not going back next year as we start our home school journey. My biggest reason for starting homeschool is because my son that was supposed to go to grade R next year, was not accepted. I have sent numerous emails back and forth and I have phoned the DOE so many times. I have given the department a chance with my child's education, and they have failed. I brought my kids into this world, I have to rear them and I will teach them and now their education will be in good hands. Our homeschool journey begins next year, and we are super excited!”
Reason 2 – Inability to place your child(ren) in the school of your choice
When parents try to register their child(ren) for schooling, particularly in Gauteng, parents cannot place their child(ren) in the school of their choice because an automatic admission system was implemented that prevents this. This applies specifically to children in Grades 1 and 8.
A letter from Afriforum’s head of education Carien Bloem, addressed to the Premier of Gauteng, states that “AfriForum received numerous complaints from parents over the placement of their children for 2020, despite the fact that these parents had followed the registration process to a tee. These complaints include, among other, that children were placed in schools which:
Had not been one of their choices;
Are different from where their siblings are going to school;
Are not closest to their home or parents’ work address; and
Are different from where they attended grade R.
Similar problems plagued the online placement system in 2018, but AfriForum was assured that all glitches would be ironed out by 2019. This has not been the case – in fact, there are more problems now than in 2018.”
Parents should have the freedom to choose which school their child attends, for the simple reason that it’s your right to choose education that would be in the best interest of your child. Other reasons include the obvious practical logistics – commute time to school and then to work (if the parent is working) is a top consideration because of cost and economy.
As an example of how many learners are not served by the public schools, take a look at the numbers from the Draft Blaauwberg Baseline and Analysis Report 2019. The statistics are from 2011 for only the Blaauwberg district in Cape Town, so it’s safe to assume the numbers are far higher by now:
“In 2011, only 49.44% of pupils in the district were serviced by Grade R compared to the City average of 58%. The District and the Metro statistics for primary schools are similar at 94% and 96% respectively. Secondary schools were servicing approximately 77% of the pupils in the district which was lower than the Metro average of 82%.”
When it comes to traveling, “…47.17% (19 812) of the learners had access to a school within 1km; 31.49% (13 227) between 1km and 2km and 21.34% (8 962) between 2km and 5km from their homes.”
When learners cannot be placed in schools, parents are forced to consider alternative options to provide education. Private schooling is unaffordable for the majority of parents, so only tutoring and home education remain.
Reason 3 – Concerns about Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)
The issues surrounding the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in our national curriculum makes home education all the more important and relevant to many parents. For some, it was simply the last straw after many other disappointments with mainstream schooling.
Our previous article on the subject explains all the concerns about CSE in detail, but here are some of the highlights:
- A lack of transparency and proper consultation with parents and teachers during the development of this curriculum.
- False claims that the curriculum helps decrease early sexual debut, teenage pregnancies, risky sexual behaviours, etc. These claims were disproven by independent research and indicated the content to be more harmful than helpful.
- A lack of financial disclosure regarding the funding of this curriculum (for instance, partial funding from Planned Parenthood, which is a conflict of interest.
Parents want to have (and should have) control particularly over the education of sensitive subjects like sex, faith, values and worldview because these are personal. Infringing on these subjects in a way that allows for bias and confusion violates on parents’ rights and freedom to educate their children according to their personal and religious views and values.
Reasons 4-10 – A broken system not improving
Some of the other typical reasons parents choose to homeschool include problems that the current education system lacks the infrastructure, resources, training and personnel to address, such as:
- Bullying by students and/or staff – these incidents are increasing annually, to the point where statistics show that one in three students have been physically, violently bullied at school at least once in the last month. (Source: The most recent study by UNESCO that compiled data from global and regional surveys covering 144 countries.)
- Class size – too many students per class.
- The system does not enable individualised support for children who are struggling, or who are uniquely gifted and need an accelerated pace.
- Standard of education – the pass mark has been lowered to an all-time low of 33% which does not equip learners for university standards or for entry into the working, adult world.
- CAPS curriculum is content and homework heavy in a society already pressed for time and resources to survive in a difficult economy.\
- Cost – increases every year for seemingly less and less effective education.
- Lack of sufficient assistance/support of children with special needs (mobility limitations, autism, etc.).
How to begin homeschooling
If you would like to begin homeschooling your child, here are some steps to help:
- Join the Pestalozzi Trust to ensure that you have legal defence and assistance if you were to be questioned by the authorities regarding homeschooling your child(ren).
- Evaluate your circumstances, needs, goals, resources and support to plan what you need, who can help you and what approach you will take.
- Read the Beginners Guides on our website (SAhomeschoolers.org). Register and then select “Get Started” on the main menu for links to free beginners’ guides in English and Afrikaans. Registration on the website is free and will ensure you receive notifications when new blog articles are published, or new facilities released. Your email address will be kept private and will not be distributed to 3rd parties.
- If your child is 15 years or older, you should also consider how your child will graduate high school. Select “Matric” on the top menu of our website for the free article on Matriculation options available.
- Home education can be provided by the parents, or parents can make use of Tutors. For information on tutors, click on “Support” on the main menu of SAhomeschoolers.org and then click on “Tutors” for a list of advertisements by organisations and individuals who offer tutoring services.
- You can also check out our YouTube series for answers to the frequently asked questions on home education.
- Join the homeschooling community in your area by looking through the Support Groups on our site. There you will find links to pages with information on support groups in various regions. You are can also look for local groups on Facebook.
As a parent, whether your child is in mainstream school or transitioning to homeschooling, you are not alone in the challenges you face. High quality education is a serious responsibility and duty because children are tomorrow’s leaders. Everyone is in this situation together and we must all do our part in every possible way to ensure the best possible education and future for our children.
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