The Commission for Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Rights, in short the CRL commission has issued a report on the Commercialization of Religion and Abuse of People's Believe Systems. The public is invited to provide comments by the 28th of February.
The commission has the power to make recommendations to organs of state with regards to legislation. It is therefore possible that recommendations in this report can end up in policies, regulations and laws. Although this report does not deal with education, it contains statements that could affect home education.
Homeschoolers are extremists / fundamentalists
The first concerning statement is found in the report under the heading of substantive issues: "viii. Subjecting members to control by extremists/fundamentalists such as forbidding children to attend school… “
The words ‘…forbidding children to attend school’ can be interpreted as ‘home education’. Such negative labelling can be used to encourage state interference in children’s rights to receive a type of education that is in their best interest.
The reasons why parents choose home education are varied. Some are for religious reasons, others not. However, the statement in the CRL report also labels parents that choose home education for reasons totally unrelated to religion as extremists / fundamentalists.
Given the inability of the state to place tens of thousands of children in schools in 2017, it is the only choice available to many parents. The statement in the CRL report will also label parents that choose home education because the state is unable to place their children in public schools as extremists/fundamentalists.
‘Religious extremism’ is a term which is often used to describe religious organisations that encourage terrorism. The implication of this report is that home education may constitute ‘extremism’ and is likely to encourage state officials to treat home educating families as terrorists.
Home education is an abuse of human rights
Further on, the report makes the following statement :"15.2 The Constitution leaves scope for all kinds of beliefs and opinions. Even views that some may regard as extreme are allowed and should not be regulated. However, when views lead to the abuse of human rights (for example, hate speech as indicated in article 16(2)), or to the violation of the law, there is cause for concern. For example, it is a matter of concern when religious freedom is taken to the level where children are prevented from attending school, as it is a violation of the Constitution and existing law."
The Bill of Rights states the right to basic education : “29. (1) Everyone has the right— (a) to a basic education…”. Given the state of public schools in South Africa, it cannot be assumed that sending a child to a public school will provide that child with a basic education.
Because many public schools are not able to provide education anymore, many parents decide to take their children out of public schools and provide them a superior education through home education. The recommendation of the CRL implies that it is an abuse of human rights to take children out of public schools in order to provide a superior education. According to the CRL commission it is a human right abuse to provide children with an education, but it is the right thing to place children in overfull schools where they receive no education.
What you can do
Sign the petition against the classification of homeschoolers as extremists and human right abusers here.
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