From mainstream schooling to homeschooling: What parents need to know about the legal requirements

A parent reserves the right to guide, direct and secure a child's education. (UntitledImages/Getty Images)
A parent reserves the right to guide, direct and secure a child's education. (UntitledImages/Getty Images)

Schools have reopened, and many parents are relieved to ince again leave the teaching to the professionals. 

Still, many parents may not feel confident with returning their children to a potentially unsafe environment, choosing to homeschool instead. 

According to home educator and activist Chirani Meyer, the South African homeschooling community has grown immensely since the start of lockdown, reporting a 60% uptick in homeschooling enquiries as parents weigh up their options

And while finding the homeschooling option that best suits you and your children may not be hard to come by, parents must also be aware of the legal formalities that are part and parcel of going from mainstream schooling to homeschooling. 

What the law says

"The child has a right to parental care, which includes having his or her education guided and directed by its parents," says attorney Shando Theron, a senior partner at Johannesburg-based law firm Theron Inc

And while a parent reserves the right to guide, direct and secure a child's education, there are "legal formalities regarding homeschooling," Theron says, such as registering as a homeschooler with your provincial Department of Basic Education.

To do this, you will need to complete a form called the Application for Registration of a learner for Education at home.

According to Theron, you'll need to provide the following supporting documents when completing this form:

  • Certified copies of the parents and child's identity documents;
  • Last copy of child's school report and immunisation card;
  • A weekly timetable; 
  • Breakdowns of terms per year; 
  • A learning programme;
  • Certified copy of child's birth certificate.

Theron explains that the application process, which is free and can also be done online, will take a maximum of 30 days.

"Without the application, you are not allowed to homeschool or remove the child from formal schooling," he cautions. 

If you're feeling a little intimidated at the requirements, Theron says "fear not."

"All of the above plus internet links to the textbooks, teachers, as well as internet and phone contact with specialist tutors (for the parent whom will be teaching), are all now part of the secondary industries mushrooming around homeschooling, along with social activities (dances and outings) and even sports teams and coaches for homeschoolers."

But what about monitoring academic progress? 

As far as academic progress goes, Theron says parents must refer to the DBE's guideline document, Policy on home education

The policy maintains that your child's curriculum must "meet the minimum requirement at a public school", and that home educators "keep records of all tests and tasks for possible assessment by the department."

Additionally, the policy also states that a parent must "use a competent assessor to validate assessments, exams and tasks and submit the report of the competent assessor to the head of the provincial Education Department (HOD)," Theron notes. 

Find out more about the DBE's minimum academic requirements at each level of learning here: 

Have you decided to homeschool your child?  

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