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National Curriculum not Binding on Private Education
Statement by the Pestalozzi Trust
Judge Cynthia Pretorius confirmed in the Pretoria High Court today that the state curriculum is not binding on independent schools and parents who educate their children at home.
The judge rejected an application by homeschooling parents and private schools to declare the curriculum non-binding. She decided that a Constitutional Court verdict from 2001 made the application unnecessary.
Mr. Bouwe van der Eems of the Pestalozzi Trust, a legal defence association for civil and home education, nevertheless welcomed the verdict because private educators can now safely ignore demands to teach according to the state curriculum.
He expects that the verdict will bring peace to parents and private education institutions who continually have to resist unlawful pressure from education authorities demanding that they teach according to the national curriculum.
Van der Eems points out that tens of thousands of homeschooling parents and thousands of private schools have refused to register with the authorities precisely because officials make unlawful demands such as compliance with the national curriculum as precondition for registration. He is of the opinion that these parents and schools have been vindicated by the verdict.
He says that many parents and schools have also succumbed in the past to intimidation by education officials to comply with such unlawful demands. He expects that more of them will now stand up for the internationally recognised right of children to receive education that differs from that which is offered by the state.
The Pestalozzi Trust regrets that the case took nearly four years and gets the impression that the minister fought tooth and nail to keep the case out of court while she and officials at all levels persisted in imposing the curriculum on private education. The Trust calls on education authorities to communicate and consult better with stakeholders in future about the measures that they attempt to impose on private education.