Four families who reside in Mahalapye, Botswana face an uncertain future due to an increasingly tense standoff over the issue of homeschooling. The families, adherents of the Seventh Day Adventist church, homeschool because of their religious and philosophical convictions. Despite their sincerely-held religious beliefs and the inability of the court to find any social or educational problems with the children, they have nonetheless been ordered by the local court to enroll their children in public school or face unknown consequences. On September 10, a judge in Botswana is scheduled to decide their fate. Attorneys for the family are seeking an urgent interdict to prevent the magistrate court from taking any action against this family. HSLDA is asking for your help.
Estimates suggest that only a few hundred children are homeschooled in Botswana, a country of 2 million located just north of South Africa and that has acceded to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Social workers cited the UN treaty as the primary reason for initiating the court action. On May 24, 2010 Judge I.T. Molobe, a magistrate court judge in Mahalapye, ordered the families to enroll their children in public school and to cease home education. The written decision also ordered the families to forfeit their teaching materials to the state; these were subsequently taken by the police in a raid in July of this year. On August 20, Principal Magistrate Judge Jennifer Chikate denied a stay pending the appeal and ordered the parents to appear before the court on September 10 to report their compliance with the order. If the parents do not comply by sending their children to public school, they face contempt charges, possible jail time, and/or stiff fines. The families have told HSLDA that they are determined to continue homeschooling.