The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information wishes to advise our stakeholders that the Independent Schools’ Unit in the Ministry has the responsibility for the registration, approval and regulation of Home-Schools in Jamaica. Home-schools are governed by the Education Act, 1965, and the Independent Schools’ Regulation 1973.
The Education Act of 1965 (Part III) Section 21 states:
a) It is the duty of the parent of every child of compulsory school age residing in a compulsory education area to cause him her to receive full time education suitable to his age, ability and satisfactory to the educational board for the area, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
In addition, the Child Care & Protection Act 2005 outlines provisions which protects the child’s right to quality education.
The Child Care & Protection Act (2005) under Part (II), subsection 28 (1): Duty to secure Education of a child states:
b) “…every person having the custody, charge or care of a child between the ages four and sixteen years shall take such steps as are necessary to ensure that the child is enrolled at, and attends school.”
Due to the current effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there exists a growing demand to establish home-schools, which forms part of the paradigm shift and an alternative to the public education system. Home-schooling involves parent/s or guardian/s taking on the task of educating his/her/their children in the familiar controlled setting of the home. The home-school system allows children to work at their own pace, in which teaching and learning is facilitated by parents, family member or a trained tutor at the expense of the parent/guardian. Parents and guardians who choose to home-school their children, must take full responsibility to ensure that their children are educated in a safe and conducive learning environment, guided by the standards provided by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.
In Jamaica, the maximum number for home-schooling is 6 students in any one setting. A special permission must be granted from the Ministry of Education, Youth & Information for the home-school to exceed the maximum of six (6) children.
The Independent Schools’ Unit in executing its responsibility in regulating homeschools performs the following processes:
Provide information on the standards and guidelines for the registration of home-schools
Review and appraise completed applications for submission to the Independent Schools Committee for approval of registration
Inspect home facilities and designated records pertinent to the validity and reliability of the structure and delivery of instructions in home-schools
Deregistration of home-schools that failed in the maintenance of the basic standards on the recommendation of Independent Schools Committee.
Home-Schooling vs Distance/Remote Learning
Distance/remote learning is the education of students who may not always be physically present at a school. Student and the educator, or information source, are not physically present in a traditional classroom environment. Information is relayed through technology, such as discussion boards, video conferencing, and various online and offline platforms. This modality is facilitated in partnership with the school board as per the approved timetable of the school. Therefore, parents interested in Distance/Remote Learning should make contact with their school principals.
Through Distance/Remote Learning, students will be educated using the blended approach (teacher supervision, learning kits where necessary, computer-aided learning, televised and radio broadcast education etc.) all facilitated by the educators at the school. With home-schooling however, these activities are undertaken at the expense of the parent or tutor recruited by the parent.
Special Provision for Home-Schooling Based on the COVID-19 Pandemic
Parents who request to have their child/children home-schooled for the new school year, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, should write to the Board of Management of the school in which the student is enrolled to indicate that the child has been approved for home-schooling and to request that their child’s/children’s registration at the school be retained. This request should be supported by a certified copy of the approval granted by the Independent Schools’ Unit for the child to be home-schooled. The attendance records for the child should be communicated daily via email to the school. Also, the attendance record should be verified on a monthly basis by the Assistant Registrar of the Independent Schools’ Unit and a copy submitted to the school principal for inclusion on the students’ formal records. This should be completed by the first Friday of the following month of the period being reported on. The child’s record should be credited with the verified data. This will ensure that students can be reintegrated in the school, should the decision be taken by the parent as we continue to navigate the unprecedented demands of the pandemic.
Please see the appended Home-schooling Application Form, Guidelines for registration subject to COVID-19 and the Education in Emergency: HomeSchooling During the COVID-19 Pandemic documents for guidance.
Parents/ Guardians desirous of establishing Home-Schools must make contact with Dr Euphemia Burke-Robinson in the Independent Schools’ Unit via email at [email protected].