We as ECHSA have made it our mission to protect the rights of Homeschoolers in the Eastern Cape first, and subsequently in South Africa.
ECHSA’s Mission Statement:
ECHSA is a Voluntary Association, a registered Nonprofit Organization(NPO) and Public Benefit Organization (PBO). The Association endeavours to obtain the recognition of society and the protection of the law for the obligation and concomitant right of parents, firstly in the Eastern Cape, to educate and school their children in every respect.
Our ultimate aim is to construct a network, consisting of all the Provincial Associations of South Africa, that would become the first line of defence when the Department of Basic Education (DBE) seeks to draught policies and amend bills, e.g. BELA Bill, on a national level.
Our vision is that this network, the South African National Homeschooling Association (SANHA,) consisting of representatives from provincial associations, would fill the void between the home educator and government on a national level.
We endeavour to encourage provincial associations to become legal entities, by means of registering as NPOs, and consequently demanding representation on, firstly provincial level, then on national level, by means of the South African National Homeschooling Association, when policies and bills are discussed.
We aim to be proactive in our approach to dealing with bill amendments and policies, instead of waiting for legal action to be taken against any home educator and their children after a policy or bill has been passed.
We also endeavour to take part in any and all policy and amendment processes that we need to, to ensure that we are a voice for home educators in the province.
Who does ECHSA endeavour to represent?:
ECHSA is a representative body for HOMEschoolers in this province. Home education is defined clearly in South African law (see the South African Schools Act of 1996 online) as that education which takes place by a PARENT at the homeschooled child’s OWN HOME for the majority of the child’s daily education, i.e at least 3 hours a day. It is acceptable if the parent takes the children to a tutor centre for tutoring in a specific subject the student struggles with.
A cottage school or learning center that provides the bulk of a child’s education should be registered at the Department of Education as an independent school, otherwise it is illegal and if discovered, there are legal implications for both the owners and the parents who send their children there. ECHSA understands the need for Cottage schools/Learning centers, which is to provide alternative education for a child whose parents cannot homeschool themselves, but we believe they should form their own associations and have their own voice and not try to find legitimacy by seeking to associate with the legal practice of HOME education.
In accordance with this, ECHSA cannot represent anyone practising any form of education provision to children within the age-group 7 to 15, who does not comply strictly with this provision of law. We will, however, allow families to be a part of the organization if some of the children in the household are not home educated but are attending registered independent schools or a registered Learning Centre/Cottage School (provided that you supply us with a copy of the registration document, showing registration with the Department of Education.) However, those children’s names cannot appear on the membership form.
At ECHSA, the executive members cannot make unilateral decisions on issues that affect homeschoolers in the Eastern Cape. That is why our organizational structure, as an NPO and our constitution, lends itself to transparency and responsible representation. Our executive members are democratically elected every year, as to give the association members recourse to choose their representation. We constantly update our members on issues and endeavour to get feedback on important decisions to ensure we truly represent the home educator. We do not only want to be a representative body, but ultimately a registration body to be a buffer between home education and the DBE. This does not mean we will give your information to the DBE, on the contrary, we will keep it safe and sound with us where no one can access it as we have processes in place.
What ECHSA is not:
We are not a legal defence fund. This is where we are different from the Pestalozzi Trust.
The Pestalozzi Trust is a membership organisation, funded almost exclusively by membership fees, that defends its members’ right to education. The Pestalozzi Trust will therefore consider funding a court action when there is an injured party – a specific member, whose right to home education is directly being infringed upon by an action of the State.
What ECHSA has achieved:
We have started achieving this goal in the Eastern Cape when we presented ourselves to the HOD of Education in the Eastern Cape, as a legal entity that needs to be consulted if any provincial regulations or policies are to be discussed. Our motto is “Don’t speak about us, speak to us.”
We had also been invited to the Home Education Roundtable on the 28th of February 2020 to discuss setting up minimum requirements for registration, curriculum and assessment for home education in South Africa. We will be part of the task teams assigned in the process. In short, we would love to only notify the DBE of our intent to home educate and not even register, but that is no longer an option. If we are not going to be a part of the process to set up these MINIMUM requirements, we will end up with the DBE’s maximum requirements.
If we are to achieve this, we need you, a home educator in the Eastern Cape to become a member of ECHSA, because we need the numbers. The more voices we add together, the louder we will speak!!
Now that we have shared our mission and vision with you, and you and your family would like to become members of this dynamic association, please contact us for a membership form. The membership fees are R40 per month or R480 per year. But it is not about the money at all. Please, if you are not able to make this contribution we would still like you to join, because we need your support!