Number of learners registered for homeschooling doubles

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Homeschooling organisations say the number of learners that have registered with them has doubled. The organisations say this time in 2019, they had 140 000 homeschooling learners.

Recent statistics put the number at 300 000.

Parents got interested in homeschooling when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the disruption of the academic year.

However, it appears that most of these parents have not been able to register with the Education Departments as per requirements because they were inaccessible in the last few months.

Homeschooling and its challenges:

Chumani Screech says he started homeschooling his three daughters in Grades 1, 6, and 7 in March 2020 following lockdown level 5.

Homeschooling was given as an option by the department even after schools opened and they decided it was safer to continue with it.

He says although it has been challenging, he would take it up full-time if he worked from home.

“With my Grade 1 daughter, to be there next to her, to be able to listen to questions and to help her if she doesn’t understand any questions, and also the constant interruptions from my other two daughters if they don’t understand something. I have to step in and stop whatever I am doing at that stage to help them out.”

Screech says he’ll advise other parents to try homeschooling in order to be exposed to what their children are learning at school.

Wendy Hendrickse, on the other hand, says while she switched to home-schooling because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she is now homeschooling on a permanent basis.

“I read and researched on neuroscience and how children learn best, I have applied this to my children who each have very different learning styles. I have seen them go from children who push themselves towards what they called boring school work to embracing learning as an attitude to life and how they see the world now and in the future. The more I see my children flourishing at home, developing into thinkers and putting forward fascinating theories; the more I am convinced that the current education system holds no place for them.”

Homeschooling expected to increase under lockdown:

Increased membership

Chairperson of the Pestalozzi Trust Bouwe van der Eems says organisations working with homeschoolers have registered increased membership because parents are signing up for homeschooling. However, this might not be easily identifiable as 90% of homeschoolers were not registered with departments of education even before the pandemic.

He says registration became trickier when provincial departments’ officials worked from home as they were unreachable.

Van der Eems is confident that most of the parents who took up home-schooling in 2020 will continue with it.

“The doubling of the number of home learners is in line with other countries such as the USA where the numbers also doubled. This means that the number of home learners increased to probably 300 000 or 2.5% of the total school population.”

The Department of Basic Education says some of the parents, who had wanted to register their children for homeschooling, have sent their children back to school.

Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says they are more worried about learners who did not go back to school but are also not registered as home scholars. He says the Western Cape alone has 200 000 such learners.