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BELA Bill – what does it mean for homeschoolers?

By now you must have heard about the BELA Bill. You have probably also read scary articles about how it will impact homeschooling families.  If you are a Clonard homeschooling family then you have nothing to worry about.

The draft Bill deals mostly with the regulation of mainstream schools in South Africa (both public and private).  Section 25, which is one page long, deals with homeschooling.

Summary of Section 25 of the draft BELA Bill:

  • parents must register with the Department of Education as homeschoolers
  • home education must be in the best interests of the learner
  • parents need to understand the responsibility of homeschooling and must be equipped for it
  • the work covered needs to be appropriate to the learner’s age, grade and ability
  • the work needs to cover appropriate skills and content at least comparable to the South African curriculum
  • parents must ensure access to suitable educational resources for the learner
  • parents must have the learner assessed once a year by a competent assessor
  • after grade 9 parents can continue with home education, but must register the learner with an Umalusi accredited provider for grade 12
  • the DoE may cancel a learner’s registration as a homeschooler if it is no longer in the best interests of the child (but only after notifying the parent and giving them a chance to appeal)

Clonard families will be absolutely fine if the draft BELA Bill goes into law exactly as it is.

The only thing that will change for Clonard families will be that parents must register with the DoE as homeschoolers – a sometimes lengthy process, but ultimately successful.  Read more about registration in our blog post here.

The other points covered in the Bill are to make sure that children receive a quality education in line with the South Africa curriculum.  Clonard is already in line as we include CAPS approved textbooks.  Clonard also includes other things required by the DoE such as an attendance register and continuous assessment tasks.

Clonard’s teachers are fully qualified.  They set and mark the exams. We issue formal reports each year.  This already meets the new BELA Bill’s external assessment requirement.

If you do not use a formal curriculum provider such as Clonard, then it may be a good time to start.

Clonard offers excellent support for our comprehensive curriculum.  We are in line with DoE requirements.  We maintain high standards in line with private schools.

4 Comments

  1. The asessments referred to are at a cost of R600 per subject per learner per year! For families with 3 or more children taking up to 7 subjects is quite a substantial amount to pay for DOE asaessments. And homeschoolers must apply to homeschool and WAIT for approval before homeschooling. And what about the limitatations on subjets, cultural and religious content in which the department will decide what learners may or may not learn?

    • Thank you for your comment. Clonard has “competent assessors” in the form of our qualified and highly experienced teachers that set and mark the exams. This means that Clonard students will not have to write the yearly assessments with the DoE or with an affiliated school. So there is no need to worry about any extra assessment fees.
      It is a catch 22 when it comes to whether to apply for homeschooling before or after you have begun homeschooling. One of the steps in registration is a home inspection conducted by the DoE in which inspectors want to see the books that you will use, work plan, study area etc. If you have already begun homeschooling with Clonard then you will have this to show them. As it stands, before this Bill was drafted, the DoE still said that students must register as homeschoolers before beginning to homeschool. Most Clonard families did not do this, however, as they wanted to make sure that they had everything in order and planned by the time of the home inspection (and even when completing the forms) and this caused absolutely no problems. we anticipate that this will still be the case. We are in communication with the DoE at the moment in order to confirm this.
      There is not limitations on subjects, but rather required subjects that need to be covered for each grade. Clonard already includes all these subjects so there is no need to worry about that. Parents are still free to include any extra learning that they choose, such as religious and cultural studies.

  2. I’m shocked at your comments on the BELA Bill. You are clearly out of touch with home educating families and their reasons for doing so. This Bill, if passed, will have dire consequences for education in this country, as well as for your business.

    • Thank you for your comment, but this Bill really will not affect Clonard homeschooling families much at all. If students are registered with Clonard then we already comply with all the department’s requirements in terms of subjects, pass requirements, external competent assessors, learning areas, necessary skills per grade level etc.
      As the article says, unschooling families will be affected most as they will have to have their children assessed each year for each subject that the DoE requires students to complete for each grade.
      The only difference for Clonard families is that instead of being gently encouraged to register with the DoE, we will strongly advise it.

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