I grew up hearing my grandparents and parents telling me, “it is better to be safe than sorry”. It meant that it was always good to be prepared for the unexpected.
The African Heritage Foundation (AHF), an organization I founded in 2014, has been a loud voice in Barbados advocating for the development of homeschooling as an educational option for all parents and children, regardless of colour or class. There are many articles on this website that record the legal journey of the AHF and a Rastafari family who sought to homeschool their children. Likewise other articles on this website record the development of a homeschool service by the AHF, that assists parents making application to the Ministry of Education (MOE) for permission to home school, access to information on the diversity of homeschooling, access to teaching materials and even assisting with tutoring. A homeschooling family support group is an intended component of the AHF’s homeschooling service that is yet to be organized.
BAASE online tutorials
It is based on the history of the AHF’s involvement in the arena of homeschooling, that a comment from us on the recent statement made by Barbados’ Minister Of Education, on the recognition of homeschooling being accepted by her ministry as a viable option for parents, is warranted.
Sister Stacia and Ras Simba speaking at a press conference in support of homeschooling
The AHF gives much thanks to the Barbados Today Online newspaper who has made it their business to constantly follow up on the development of the AHF’s homeschooling service and offer support where able.
It is from that newspaper that the AHF would read what was said by the Minister of Education as it pertained to homeschooling. The minister is quoted as saying, “We have also looked at homeschooling, because there have been more requests from parents to keep students at home, and we have had a number of students who have done exceptionally well through homeschooling.”
“We have indicated that there is a procedure that must be followed. I am not going to deter persons from pursuing that option. I think it is to be encouraged and therefore for persons who are a bit reluctant to send their children to school, there are options available. We recognize that not everyone will be on the same page, but we are willing to accommodate where we possibly can, to ensure that children are able to learn,” she added.
Minister of Education
It is a fact that the MOE has an application procedure to follow when seeking permission to homeschool your child. Will parents still be asked for their qualifications, to teach their children? Did they need these qualifications when forced homeschooling was thrown upon them due to the COVID-19 safety restrictions? Was it the support distance learning provided, that qualified all parents to homeschool?
The AHF is pleased to read that the MOE will no longer be putting up a resistance, and trying to deter parents from accessing their human and constitutional rights to educate their own children. The organization has been blacklisted by the MOE for the assistance and support it has been giving to poor marginalized parents who wished to homeschool their children. Two court cases and numerous confrontations later, we are here at this point in the saga of homeschooling in Barbados.
In its lobby to have homeschooling viewed and supported as a viable option for all parents, the AHF has written letters to the MOE and the Minister offering its assistance in conceptualizing, implementing and managing a homeschooling division of the MOE. These letters were seen by blind people, heard by the deaf, and as such no support in any conceivable way was offered to parents making application to homeschool. Does the MOE now offer support for parents opting to homeschool? Is the MOE going to create working relationships between their schools and homeschoolers? Will the MOE develop a mobile teaching service that employs younger people to assist homeschooling parents? The AHF is hoping that the MOE will take the lead in the creation of community based homeschoolers support collectives.
A documentary on homeschooling that the AHF helps parents thinking about homeschooling access.
It is clear that the upbringing of the MOE is very different from my own, and the saying, ” better safe than sorry” was not told to them. The MOE has had the wrong attitude towards homeschooling for years, and should be big enough in character, to outstretch its hand to non governmental collectives and individuals, who have shown interest in the development of homeschooling over the years, inviting them to consult on the shaping of the homeschool landscape in Barbados.
The longest journey begins with the first step, and the AHF commends the Minister of Education for her lack of cognitive dissonance, and customary Ostrich syndrome when confronted with this new and relatively unpopular manifestation of education.
I know a woman called Joy, a real chief if you know what I mean, her husband Adam and their son. They all work in the education system, and are fierce opponents of homeschooling within the likes of lord Nelson’s opposition to the abolition of the slave trade. Oh how their hearts must be troubled.
When we as a people work together to address problematic issues that confront us, and advocate for visionary leadership and solutions, we will have more safety and less sorrow.
Paul Simba Rock for the African Heritage Foundation