Author Archives: Shirley Erwee

About Shirley Erwee

Shirley Erwee is a homeschooling mother of 6, who has been home educating her own children plus two others for 20 years, since 1997. She is also a curriculum provider, author of homeschooling books, home education activist and advisor and now provides an online course for the GED® in South Africa

The GED® still accepted in SA 2020

The GED® has been evaluated by SAQA as being the closest comparable qualification to the South African National Senior Certificate (Grade 12) a foreign grade 12 equivalent and this has not changed.

All that is changing at the end of 2019, is ONE of the ways that students with a GED® obtained exemption from USAf in order to be eligible for admission to DEGREE courses at South African universities.

Exemption is NOT required for admission to Higher Certificate courses.

In November 2018, USAf, Umalusi, SAQA and the Dept of Higher Education held a roundtable meeting with a range of foreign and alternate curriculum providers, including Cambridge, GED®, Montessori, Waldorf, IB and others to gather information about each option and the standards and testing criteria. Their intention is to review each of these options with the aim of them potentially being registered  on the National Qualifications Framework so that they will be more widely understood by universities and colleges as well as the public. It will be clear what the standards are for each one.
GED® Testing Service and GED® South Africa are working with these regulators to help this happen as they believe that this will result in the GED being better understood and accepted. However, it is expected to take several years. This was the main reason that they changed the minimum age from age 16 to age 17 in SA.
Since each university and college course has its own entrance criteria, and since they change often, you MUST check with the institution and specific faculty of your choice that they will accept these foreign qualifications with one of the categories of exemption. Many courses have additional requirements which you will also have to fulfill, no matter what Grade 12 credential you have.

Read more about exemption options here:

Encouraging Teens to Own Their Lives

An email from a client: “I have 7 GED students. 3 of them are working diligently. Although they do chat, they work most of the morning. The other 4 students seem to hardly every be working. They talk so much that they disturb other children being tutored. Is there any suggestion that you might have for me to motivate them? They seem to feel that they can take as long as they need to, their parents will simply pay again if they don’t finished in 12 months. I am used to working with children to get them to their goals. I feel very hands-off with this group and am at a loss to motivate them.
Any advice would be appreciated. “

Reply from Shirley at Online GED:

I think with those 4 unmotivated students you have to work at de-schooling their mindsets. They are so used to being compelled to attend school, whether they want to be there or not and being forced to learn various subjects, whether they want to or not, that they still have that same attitude.

You need to remind them that when they finish their GED®, they are finished with school and can then move on to the next stage and spend time pursuing something that they choose themselves. You need to encourage them to take ownership of their lives and grow up and stop acting like children.

Perhaps encourage them to start investigating what it is that they are really interested in. School usually allows very little time for kids to get to know themselves and find things that stimulate them – hobbies, talents or even future career paths.

Ask them if there are perhaps other courses they’d like to do at the same time as their GED®. For example my 16 year old has been doing a photography course online and an art/drawing course online, as those are skills she wants to develop.

Maybe there are things they are interested in too – coding or art or videography or drama, or business or gardening or making stuff or you-name-it that they might find some delight in too.

I think they need to be sparked to realise that their life can be so much more than just coming to school and wasting time. 

It might take time as most kids don’t know what’s out there for them to do, but maybe even take a few days with them and find some know-yourself type of questionnaires or do some career guidance or something completely different to expose them to more and to try to spark that sense of adventure and self-motivation to get on with their lives in a constructive way.

This article lists 10 Things to Do Before the GED that will develop life skills.

10 Things for a 15-year Old Before the GED

At Online GED, we are aware that the change in new age minimum of 17 to write the GED® tests has been very inconvenient for some students. We know it has affected their plans for the next year or two quite drastically.

However, if you really think about it, age 16 is very young to be ‘finished’ with the school stage of life and to venture into the adult world. This might just be a blessing in disguise, giving you more precious time with your child, before s/he flies the nest and moves on to other things.

It is also valuable time to use to enrich the life of your student.

If you have a 15-year old, we recommend that you take this as an early gap year and use this time to allow the students to explore and enjoy other useful life experiences.  Use it as a time for the student to get to know himself/herself better, to discover new interests and talents and even to discover what they dislike!

In terms of academic studies, here is what we recommend: What to Do Before the GED
This article will describe various home education products which will help your child to develop the skills needed to do well on the GED® tests.

10 Things for a 15-year Old to Do Before the GED

Here is a list of more than ten things to consider doing during this year that will add value to your student’s life and further their life-long education.

You don’t have to do all of them, but at least try some of them!

1. Let them keep up studying the four subjects required for the GED.

2. Take the Money-Essentials short course and Business-Essentials short course – these are skills we all need to function as independent adults one day.

3. Get a part-time job. See how they like working for someone else, being punctual and responsible and what the pros and cons are of the workplace they find themselves in. They will be developing skills and experience that businesses value: how to communicate, how to market, sell, manage others, work on a team, lead.

4. Start a small business and learn about entrepreneurship. Its better to learn from mistakes while living at home, than later in life.

5. Volunteer at a community-based organisation and start building a social network, for social and future business / employment reasons. They will build relationships with others in the community, who know them, trust them, and feel grateful for all their help and can recommend them to others – prospective employers or prospective clients.

6. Coach younger children in something they are good at. This will give them the joy of sharing skills they have mastered, experience engaging with parents, doing admin and lesson planning. They will soon decide if they enjoy this kind of work or not!

7. Take an online course and learn new skills that will equip them for their future career. Besides the courses we recommend at the link above, at Udemy, Allison and other such sites there are a host of options. Select courses that will be useful and look good on their CV.

8. Read ten books on a new topic and become an ‘expert’ on something new.

9. Investigate future career paths and the requirements to be eligible for further study in those fields.

10. Job-shadow, intern or be apprenticed in the field they are interested in. Decide if its the right career path or not. Get connected in that field.  A girl we know job-shadowed at a law firm in 2018 and they have now offered to pay for her studies and let her do her articles with them.

11.Practice touch-typing daily using a free online course such as It’s an essential, time-saving skill to have in the economy of the 21st century

12. Take up a new sport, hobby or join a club or a class in your community. Again, this will be a new experience that will build your child’s character, develop new skills, new relationships and connect them with new people in their social and business network.

Many of the above will give your student experiences and/or skills to list on their CV if they look for a job in the future, or to equip them for self-employment if they choose that route.
It will give them opportunities to learn lessons in the real world, the adult working environment, which they could never have had in a school classroom.

By trying out at least a few of these, your students will learn what they like and what they don’t like about those situations. They will have a widened their life experience, gained some wisdom and insight into real-world scenarios, which they can use when making decisions about their futures.

Die GED® vir Afrikaners

die GED® vir Afrikaners

Die GED® vir Afrikaners – is dit moontlik?

Kan ‘mens die GED® oorweeg as jou kinders Afrikaanssprekend is?

Hoe vaar Afrikaanssprekende kinders met die GED®?

Can Afrikaans speaking students manage the GED® in English?

Die GED® is ‘n Amerikaanse toets en daarom is dit nie in Afrikaans beskikbaar nie.

‘n Hele klompie Afrikaners het al die GED® geskryf en goed geslaag. Die meerderheid sê dit is ‘n aanpassing om oor te slaan na Engels toe, as taal van onderring, maar ‘dis haalbaar’. Elke familie moet  die voordele en nadele van elke opsie oorweeg en dan self besluit wat gaan die beste opsie wees vir elkeen van hul kinders.

Hoor wat sê die ouers self:

Adri –  Ons jongste dogter is klaar met haar GED®. Die Engels was beslis ‘n aanpassing. As ‘n mens beplan om GED te doen moet jou kinders beslis baie aandag aan Engels gee. Veral op die platteland waar ons nie elke dag met Engels te doen het nie. Maar dit is belangriker dat die kind goed en met begrip kan lees.

Reinet – My stiefdogter lees ook nie so goed met begrip nie, so buiten vir die wiskunde wat sy geniet, sukkel sy soms. Ek verduidelik dit maar net vir haar. Dis belangrik dat kinders van kleins af genoeg lees.

Mary-Ann – Meeste dinge vandag is Engels, TV, rekenaarspeletjies, xbox, playstation en allerhande apps… So die Engels is nie werklik ‘n probleem nie. Kinders moet wel goed kan lees en wil leer.

Tina – My seun het op 16* sy GED® geskryf. Ek het geen formele Engels met hom gedoen nie. Hy hou baie van lees, so hy het baie Engelse boeke gelees. Dit was al Engels wat hy gedoen het, en hy het baie goed gevaar met die GED® eksamen. Hy het homself voorberei, via selfstudie, ek het nie tyd gehad om hom te help nie. Ek het hom net gesê dat as hy in Engels wil eksamen skryf sal hy moet begin Engels lees, en hy het losgetrek en dit gedoen.

*Vanaf 1 April 2019 gaan die ouderdom verander. Kandidate moet 17-jaar oud wees, om die GED® in Suid-Afrika te skryf.

Anel – My son reads a lot of English. He did struggle in the beginning but [he is] now ready to write …

Judy – Hi, we had no problem to change to GED®. Maths is a bit difficult but can cope.

Hannelie –  My oudste seun het laasjaar die GED® gedoen en baie min aandag daaraan gegee sonder enige tutor. Sy punte was gemiddeld en hy het geslaag. Dit was glad nie lekker vir hom en tydmors omrede hy klaar sy hart op 3D art gesit het en nie GED® of enige matriek nodig het nie. Die social science gaan oor die Amerikaanse wette en geskiedenis…die taal was nie te moeilik vir hom.
Ek sal nie die GED®aanbeveel as ‘n kind sukkel met lees en spel nie, tensy hy as ouer reg langs hom elke dag gaan sit en kort kort verduidelik…maar dan wat van eksamen tyd as ma nie daar is nie. Ons het met my 2de seun dit oorweeg en gou agter gekom die “taal” is te hoog vir hom.

Willemien – They find the maths difficult

Valerie – We are very Afrikaans, but as tv and computer are mostly English my kids preferred reading in English rather than Afrikaans. My son finished his GED® earlier this year and my daughter is busy with it now.
I think they just need to understand English well and be able to present themselves in the language as well.
Let them read in English as well as talk it everywhere.

Denise – My eldest son struggled a bit, but the younger two very little. In fact the youngest one reads way better in English than in Afrikaans.

Maryna –  My kids found it very easy. I have to add that we did Math-U-See for years and that was our saving grace.
My advice would be that you make your English as a subject just as important as Afrikaans. If you do science give things in their English names as well. This will make the transition so much easier.

Ewoud – I have a couple of Afrikaans students and they do find the transition difficult. But as with all things worthwhile, perseverance is the key.

Lourentia – Dis haalbaar. Ons hou maar die tweetalige woordeboek byderhand. Is moeiliker om iets in jou tweede taal te doen, maar GED® is nie onmoontlik nie. Ek het my seun(15 word Okt 16 jaar) en sy nigggie(was April 16) wat saam dit doen. Ek het by ‘n afrikaanse gesin die idee gekry om die kurses 1 keer deur te doen, omdat hul jonk is en wanneer hul deur alles gewerk het gaan hul hom weer van voor af doen. Net om die vertaling te probeer vergemaklik en hulle gemaklik te kry met die engelse terme.

Lourentia – Vandag [23 Augustus 2018] kan hierdie 100% suiwer plattelandse afrikaanse mamma met trots sê haar seun het sy laaste vak(wisk) vandag geskryf en hy is dus klaar met sy GED® loopbaan. Nou nog sus, oor 2 jaar!  This can be done even if you are Afrikaans speaking.
Thank you very much to each member on this group, you motivated us on a daily basis. A special BIG thanks to Shirley!!!

We recommend that you take a 5 day free trial to see what the course material is like. Sign up here:

Free Trial

Online GED® Questions

At a recent seminar focusing on matric options and alternatives in South Africa, Shirley was asked to answer some Online GED® questions.

We thought you might be interested in some of the answers too and so we are sharing them:

  1. Do you offer an online course as well as a text book option?

Online GED® offers everything a student needs to succeed in the GED tests in an online learning programme only. However, there are GED® study guides available in text book format which students can purchase for a reasonable fee from online book stores if they want additional study materials.

  1. Can students study 100% at home or must they attend a centre and if so, how often?

The course provided by Online GED®, created by Essential Education is designed for self-study, with an animated tutor called Leonard, who teaches the student new concepts and answers typical questions.

Therefore. most students manage very well on their own at home.
Some attend tutor centres if their parents want them to have supervision or someone to keep them accountable.
We also run an Online GED® support group on Facebook for our clients, where they can ask practical questions about matters such as how to book tests etc. We provide administrative support giving you information and guidelines for each step of your GED® journey.

  1. Can you accommodate students who live far away from city centres or who live outside of South Africa?

The GED® Tests can be written at over 3 200 official GED® test centres, in over 60 countries around the world. This means that if a student travels a lot or emigrates from South Africa, they do not have to change from one education system to another. They can continue with their studies online and write the GED® tests at their nearest test centre. The tests are identical worldwide. We have a number of sport stars who travel internationally for events who are enrolled for this very reason as the self-paced course can accommodate their sports schedules.

  1. Are students assessed and how often?

There is no continuous assessment required for students wishing to write the GED®. No year mark is needed. Only their scores on the official GED® Tests count.

However, on the online study programme, there are regular quizzes and practice tests in each subject, as well as a progress graph showing the students’ scores which helps them to measure their progress and assess when they are test-ready.

At the end of the study programme, the online system actually tells you, “Congratulations, you are ready to book your test,” so it boosts a student’s self-confidence and sets him/her up for success.

If the student is not yet test-ready, it says, “You are almost ready, but please review the following lessons,” and a list of lessons to review is provided.
The assessment on the online programme is provided automatically.

Students can also take a mock-exam  by purchasing a GED Ready® test. Click here for more info.

  1. Can a parent hand over responsibility to the child or must the parent be involved?

The answer to this will depend on the student and how mature s/he is and mostly how MOTIVATED s/he is to take ownership of his/her education. The majority of students work independently but there are some, particularly those with learning disabilities or those who have had an awful time in the school system, who sometimes need some nurturing and support from the parent.
The GED® online course offers students who had a problematic schooling experience, the opportunity to go back to basics,  to fill in any ‘gaps’ in their understanding or skills and then build a strong foundation and advance from there through the high school level learning material.

Many parents share that their children find it incredibly healing to discover that they CAN learn and that they can SUCCEED with subjects that they previously found very challenging. The self-paced course enables them to progress in their own time and it allows for healing of their self-confidence, which is vital for their long-term success.

The online course is so well set up for students to work independently that we do not need to offer any tutor support. We offer administrative support through the whole GED® process and we sometimes reassign lessons or reset the course on request by the student, but the majority of them study completely on their own and do very well.

  1. Do you offer different options or packages?

At Online GED® we offer only one fantastic option – enrolment on our study programme for one year at a time for a price of R2500 per annum (2019 price). There is no monthly payment after that. Students can enrol at any time of the year and tests can be written all year round at about 38 GED® Testing Centres in South Africa. Click here to Enrol

Examination fees are USD75 per test and there are four tests. This is paid directly to the GED Testing Service® in the USA and currently (September 2018) amounts to an estimate of just over R1000 per test, subject to the rand-dollar exchange rate.

  1. How long has your option been serving the homeschooling movement?

The Erwee homeschooling family (Dec 2017)

The GED Testing Service® has been operating since 1942 in the USA and worldwide.  Over 20 million people (and counting) have written the GED®.
In South Africa, Shirley Erwee has been a home education consultant for over 15 years and started promoting the GED® as a viable grade 12 solution when her eldest child reached high school level in 2013. Online GED® was launched in 2016, when the GED® started growing in popularity as a foreign grade 12 alternative in South Africa.

  1. Have you home educated your own children?

Yes. I have been a homeschooling parent for over 20 years, since 1997 and the youngest of my six children is only 7, so I will be homeschooling for many more years to come.
My two eldest children have both chosen to write the GED® – it was their own choice. The one has been working as an au pair in Europe for two years learning foreign languages. She was accepted to study at Stellenbosch University in 2018 but decided rather to work another year overseas. She is currently in the process of applying to study at a university in Brussels, KU Leuven which is ranked 46th in the world.
My eldest son told me at age 14 that he intends to do self-study and be self-employed in the IT industry. He completed his GED® to keep me happy and passed it with flying colours. He is currently employed as the admin and technical support guy for Online GED® and he is studying IT part-time.
He has already done freelance work for two different IT firms in SA and they are eager for him to finish the courses he is doing so that they can send him more work.

  1. How many subjects do you offer and what do they include?

In order to earn a GED® credential, a student must pass all 4 tests in the 4 subjects listed below.

The GED® test mainly SKILLS in 4 subjects – skills which are considered to be essential for success in the workplace of the 21st Century – maths, reading, writing and a huge emphasis on reasoning and critical thinking.

The tests are presented mostly in comprehension test format, so no memorisation work or wasting time cramming obsolete facts and information is required. The tests are done on computer – the tool of the future!

1.) Reasoning Through Language Arts

  • 75% informational texts
  • 25% literature
  • Argumentative essay
  • Students must be able to read, write and edit standard English in context

2.) Mathematical Reasoning – click to read more about the GED® Maths Test

  • Includes Algebra and 2- and 3-Dimensional Geometry
  • No Trigonometry
  • No Calculus
  • Calculator provided on-screen where allowed
  • Formula sheet provided

3.) Science

  • 40% Life Science
  • 40% Physical Science
  • 20% Earth and Space Science
  • Students must be able to reason, criticise, hypothesise etc.

4.) Social Studies

  • 50% Civics and Government
  • 20% United States History
  • 15% Economics
  • 15% Geography and The World
  • Students must be able to READ with comprehension and THINK critically.
  1. What work should a homeschooling family cover from Grade 6 onwards in order to be prepared for your high school option?

The most important skills required to do well on the GED® tests are good reading comprehension skills, maths and critical thinking skills. As much reading aloud together as a family as possible is therefore recommended. You can use any home education materials of your choosing to develop your children’s skills in the 4 subjects that the GED® tests.

  1. Mathematical Reasoning
  2. Science
  3. Reasoning Through Language Arts
  4. Social Studies

Click here for recommendations of What to Do Before the GED® on our sister site.

  1. Until what grade or age level can families continue homeschooling in freedom, using learning materials of their own choosing before they use your products and services?

There is no age limit. Families can decide when they are ready to enrol with Online GED®.
We find that if students have reached about grade 10 level then they cope very well with the online course and advance through it fairly quickly, if they are motivated. Some families enrol their students at age 16 so that the children can write the GED® tests once they turn 17. Others wait until they feel that their children are mature enough to be ‘finished’ with this phase of their education and they enrol anytime after that.

  1. What are the full costs of your option?

The GED® usually takes students one year to complete, provided that they have had a good education before that and do not have any learning challenges.

Cost of the GED® Credential in August 2018

The costs are as follows:

  • R2 500  – enrolment for one year at
  • $75 per test x 4 -GED®test fees, paid online in dollars – can be paid one at a time when you book each test
  • $15 for a hard copy of your GED® transcript and free diploma plus shipping (USD 47.50 x 2), paid online in dollars

Depending on the rand-dollar exchange rate, you can get  your GED® all done for roughly R8 000!

  1. Is there a short-cut to the matric ‘hurdle’?

This is a question that could possibly be interpreted to have negative connotations, depending on your assumptions and perspectives. I have encountered it many times among home educating parents who are choosing a traditional path to pursue a matric certificate for their children. It seems that some of them resent any alternative options that seem to take less time than the route that they are pursuing and so they sometimes try to discredit those options. Or when they discover there are alternatives, they feel cheated that they are forced to jump through hoops for three years to get a traditional matric.

online ged® questionsThis question assumes that life is a race and that we are all on route to the same destination, but this is a wrong assumption. Life is not a race. We are not in competition with each other and we are not all pursuing the same goals. Therefore, there are different routes to different places. One is not a short-cut and one a long-way round. The goals and experiences along the way as well as the destination are not the same.
There is no short-cut to success in adult-life. As parents each of us should be aiming to raise children who are able to achieve their own goals for their lives and give them the form of education that is in their best interests. Since each child is unique, there should not be a one-size-fits all approach to education or matric.
The GED® is not a hurdle, but a stepping stone on the educational or career path of many students. Many don’t need it but choose to do it in order to get a recognised school-leaving certificate, as that is something demanded by the society in which we live.  For others, it is a milestone that symbolises the end of the secondary phase of their education and the start of tertiary education or a specific career path. It is not an end, but a beginning of a new stage of lifelong learning. There is no short-cut because this is not a race and we are not all pursuing the same path and the same experiences.

Find more answers to Online GED® questions on our FAQ page.

The Online Learning Revolution

Online learning has revolutionised education in the 21st century.

 It provides opportunity for anyone and everyone to learn something of value.

One of the greatest problems with offline education is the  high cost. You have to pay a lot of money to attend an institution that offers courses, but online, you can study at a fraction of that cost.

Offline, you have to travel to attend classes at set times, but online, you can study from your own home or anywhere and you have the flexibility of studying in your own time too.

Online courses are self-paced and you can study in comfort – on your bed, on the couch, in your pyjamas, or in a swim-suit with a glass of your favourite drink beside you.

You can even eat while you study if you wish!

Online you can learn almost anything you wish – the choices are endless and they are all at your fingertips, literally!

Online courses listed on your CV are an asset. They will show that you are a self-motivated person who is eager to learn and to improve your education. It shows character traits such as commitment, diligence and perseverance.

Online courses can equip you with skills to become a self-employed free-lancer. You can even take courses about becoming an entrepreneur and running your own business if you wish.

As you know, at Online GED, we offer the online course that many students use to prepare for the GED® tests. I wrote about why this is a fantastic choice for 21st Century students here:

A Fresh Perspective on the GED®A Fresh Perspective on the GED

One of the great things about the Online GED® course, is that being self-paced, you also have the time to learn other useful skills while you are preparing for the GED®, or after you have completed the GED®…These skills could possibly become your career!

Two of my kids are already taking online learning courses at – one has enrolled in a number of different computer coding courses to learn different coding languages for a career in IT, the other is doing an online photography course. Today she just signed up for an online art and drawing course too. There are hundreds of other online learning options too – web design courses, graphic design, business, IT, personal development, office skills …you name it.

I get nothing for recommending Udemy to you – I just thought its such a good source of online learning courses that you’d love to know about it.

More Online Courses from Online GED® – more online courses to success in the economy of the 21st Century, how to start an online business, using emails to sell and more …

Money Essentials – get financial skills for life

Work Essentials – skills you need for entering the working world


Get it Right!

The following is a cautionary tale to encourage you to get it right first time, so that you don’t have complications when trying to book your GED® tests.

If you do, please email for assistance. When sending a query, please ensure that you always include the student’s name, surname and his/her GED ID number.

Screenshotted guidelines are available to help you at this page of our website: Online GED® Test Booking


By Jacques van Schoor – used with permission

Students younger than 18 and over 16 will receive an age alert on which has to be cleared by submitting a letter of consent (…/…/ged_test_parent_consent_form.pdf) from a parent to They promise a 72 hour turnaround, but this can take up to five work days to resolve. Do the age alert clearance as soon as is possible after you start the course. Make sure the candidate enters the proper birth date when first registering on the site. Recently the site does not allow users younger than 16, although their terms and conditions still mention a 13 year minimum.

Update December 2018:

The GED® Testing Service is now able to process eligibility alerts via online chat, eliminating the need for students to call the international operations call centre. Students must be logged in to their GED® account at to access the online chat function.

Some of my students forgot their passwords, created a second profile, and then received alerts that first had to be cleared with an expensive overseas phone call. (Somehow is smart enough to know that a single person has two profiles). The GED Testing Service will then, during the phone call, open a case to fuse the two profiles and provide you with a case number. They will ask you which PROFILE you want to keep. Choose the email address for which you remembered your email credentials. If you have already taken a mock exam on the site an ACCOUNT will also have been created. They will ask you which ACCOUNT you want to have survive. Choose the one on which you have done more tests or the one for which you have entered a valid method of payment.

The candidate then has to submit a copy of an Identity document to, quoting the case number in the subject line of the email. It takes about 5 days to for them to execute the fusion and clear the alert.

As things stand there is nothing on the site to indicate that this is a profile-related alert, and not just your age alert waiting to be resolved. You may have submitted your letter of consent and be waiting for that to clear, but this second issue could be gumming up the works without you knowing.

When GED® candidates create their profile on they must be meticulous to record their full names EXACTLY as they appear on their ID document. Physical addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, etc must also be perfect. Any variation can only be resolved with an expensive overseas call, a case number, and submitting a copy of the student’s ID. Once again – count on 5 days.

For any technical issues on the website of the GED Testing Service, please email their support centre at When sending a query, please ensure that you always include the student’s name, surname and his/her GED ID number.

Online GED – Submission on the BELA Bill

8 November 2017
Dear Adv. Rudman

Draft Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill:
Objection to section 25 (6) on home education after grade 9


1          Introduction

As a service provider for an online study programme that high school students and adults use to prepare for an international grade 12 equivalency test, namely the GED®, I would like to submit comments and objections specifically to section 25 (6) of the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (hereafter referred to as “the Bill” or “the BELA Bill”)

In this section the Bill seeks to regulate and restrict home education for children who have completed grade 9 (i.e. the Further Education phase leading up to a school-leaving qualification). The relevant clause of the Bill is found in section 25(6), and states:

A parent of a learner who wishes to continue with home education after the learner has completed grade 9, must make use of the services of a private or independent service provider, accredited by Umalusi, established in terms of section 4 of the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act, 2001 (Act No. 58 of 2001), to register for the Senior Certificate Examination through an independent or private assessment body.”


2          Objections

2.1      Vague intention and potential misinterpretation

This clause, as it stands is ambiguous and potentially open to more than one interpretation. This leaves one questioning the intention behind it. It seems to imply that children who are home educated for grades 10 to 12 must pursue the National Senior Certificate (NSC) and must make use of the services of an Umalusi-accredited service provider. The implication is that international grade 12 alternatives are not an option.

This potential restriction is of great concern to a large number of home educating families in South Africa who have chosen or intend to use international school-leaving qualifications like the GED® as their children’s school leaving qualification.

I believe that this paragraph violates the rights of learners and should be removed in its entirety from the Bill.

2.2      The child’s best interests and parents prior right

Section 28 of the South African Constitution (hereafter referred to as “the Constitution”) deals with children’s rights. Of importance is section 28 (2), which states:

(2) A child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.


Article 26 (3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which South Africa has ratified, states:

“Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”


At face value, section 25 (6) of the BELA Bill appears to violate the right of parents to choose the form of education that may be in their children’s best interests as it seems to limit the options to only one, namely, the National Senior Certificate.

Since many parents believe it is in their children’s best interests to earn school leaving credentials which are internationally recognised and widely accepted in other countries, limiting their options seems to violate their right to choose what they believe to be in their children’s best interests.


In addition to the Constitution, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), makes clear statements about a child’s best interests concerning education:

Article 28 1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular: (a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all; (b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need; (c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means; (d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children; (e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.

Article 28 3. States Parties shall promote and encourage international cooperation in matters relating to education, in particular with a view to contributing to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.

Article 29 1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to: (a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;

In other words, the aims of education must be directed toward the development of each child’s personality and full potential, preparing children to participate in society and to do work that is rewarding and reasonably remunerative, and to continue learning throughout life.

2.3      The limits of the role of the state

Article 5 of the UNCRC declares: States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the present Convention.

Parents are the primary educators of children and the state should only step in to provide education or any other social services for children when the parents fail to do so.

The Bill demonstrates the state exceeding the limits of its authority and responsibility and potentially usurping the role of responsible parents.

In Section 28 the Constitution confirms that children have the right to education, and imposes the responsibility of ensuring that children’s rights are realized, on parents. It also places the responsibility for the child’s right to shelter, basic health care and nutrition upon parents.

Parents are responsible for basic health care and they may choose private health care or use state health care services if they choose. Parents are also primarily responsible for providing adequate shelter and nutrition and the state may only be called upon to ensure that these rights of children are realised, when parents are unable to fulfill these obligations.

Following the same logic, parents have the right to choose to use private educational services, and as such, the right to choose which educational services to use, if they do.

Since the state does not restrict other parental responsibilities to only one option, it is unconstitutional for the state to wish to prescribe and limit the educational choices of parents for their children. It goes against the ethos of the Constitution to unreasonably limit educational choices, or to prevent access to international educational options — options which increase a person’s educational and professional freedom, as well as his/her freedom of movement locally and internationally.

It also seems very contrary to the spirit of the Constitution to prevent children and their parents from accessing, at their own cost, educational systems and services which they believe to be preferable and beneficial for their own needs and their children’s best interests.


2.4        Freedom of choice and access to information and academic freedom

According to the Constitution, Section 16 (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes— (a) freedom of the press and other media; (b) freedom to receive or impart information or ideas; (c) freedom of artistic creativity; and (d) academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.

The Constitution of South Africa protects the freedom of individuals with respect to belief and opinion, freedom of movement, professional choice and access to information etc.
Any proposed law that would limit any of the above choices, must be found to be just and reasonable, and there seems to be no just reason to limit an individual’s choice of grade 12 qualification to only the option of the National Senior Certificate.

Requiring families who choose home education for grades 10 to 12 to use only the National Senior Certificate as their school leaving qualification is a violation of the right to access other information and ideas and academic freedom.


3.      The GED® – a foreign grade 12 alternative

Since the GED is not a credential that is familiar to many educational officials in South Africa, let us now look at what it is and the benefits it offers in the South African educational context:

“The GED® test is a U.S. high school (12th grade) equivalency test that is delivered in more than 60 countries around the world. Students who pass the GED® test receive a credential equal to a U.S. High School Diploma. Since it was first offered in 1942, more than 20 million adults have taken the GED® test to earn their diploma.”[i]

The following descriptions are quoted from the website of the GED Testing Service in the USA:

About GED Testing Service

GED Testing Service offers the only learner-centric program that is recognized and portable from state to state. The program is based on the expectations and standards for college- and career-readiness and will lead to better outcomes in education.

The new organization was formed in 2011 and was modeled to represent a public-private partnership. It builds on its past experience in adult and continuing education by harnessing the considerable resources of Pearson, the world’s largest education and testing company, with the nearly 70-year history of ACE to expand access to the GED® test, ensure its quality and integrity, and adapt the GED® test to the skills needed in the 21st century.

The GED® program has always been a cornerstone of adult education since it first began in 1942. As the creator of the test, GED Testing Service has a responsibility to ensure that the program continues to be a reliable and valuable pathway to a better life for the millions of adults without a high school diploma.

About ACE

ACE is the nation’s [United States] most visible and influential higher education association. We represent the presidents of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions, which include two- and four-year colleges, private and public universities, and nonprofit and for-profit entities. Our strength lies in our loyal and diverse base of more than 1 800 member institutions, 75 percent of which have been with ACE for over 10 years. That loyalty stands as a testament to the value derived from membership. We convene representatives from all sectors to collectively tackle the toughest higher education challenges, with a focus on improving access and preparing every student to succeed.” [ii]


3.1      Benefits of the GED® for South Africans

3.1.1     A grade 12 solution for the unemployable, economically disadvantaged

In the South African educational context, the GED® is a solution for many learners outside of the mainstream school system, such as home educated learners and young adults who are disadvantage and unemployable as they lack a matric or equivalent.

In South Africa under 25s without matric are reported to struggle the most to find work: according to Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey [iii] , 1 June 2017, officially 6.2-million people were unemployed in South Africa.

58% of unemployed people are aged between 15 and 34 and the unemployment rate was 33.1% among people who had less than a matric.

Equally concerning is the high rate of school dropouts – “The Department of Basic Education’s figures, show that 1,100,877 learners enrolled for Grade 10 in 2014, but only 610,178 enrolled for Grade 12 in 2016 – showing an alarming rate of 44.6% of learners either dropping out of the system altogether or remaining stuck in Grade 10 and 11.” [iv]

The GED® test as a foreign grade 12 alternative, helps solve this educational and economic need by giving many of them a second chance. It opens the way for high school-aged home schoolers and young adult learners to college and university courses, apprenticeships and job training—the pathway adults need to gain skills and knowledge, to find jobs, and to care for their families.

3.1.2    Recognised by SAQA

On request the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) will issue a candidate with a GED® credential a Certificate of Evaluation which states that the closest comparable qualification in South Africa is the National Senior Certificate (matric) or an NQF Level 4 qualification.

3.1.3    Recognised by USAF

GED® graduates who meet the gazetted criteria may apply for a letter of foreign conditional exemption from Universities South Africa (USAf) so that they are eligible to apply to South African universities. GED® students have already been accepted at universities and private tertiary institutions in South Africa in the last few years.

3.1.4     Opens doors to further study

The GED® opens many doors of future opportunity for students who previously would have been unemployable and it gives the opportunity to gain access to tertiary education and is an important stepping stone on their pathway to professional success.

3.1.5     Recognised internationally

GED® high school equivalency credentials are also widely recognized by universities and colleges in other countries around the world. This means that it facilitates, rather than restricts freedom of movement of individuals.

3.1.6     Tests can be written around the world

The GED® tests are written at over 3000 test centres in over 160 countries around the world. This means that if a family immigrates, a learner’s education will not be compromised as s/he can continue preparing for the GED® and simply write the test in the new country of residence. This facilitates the right to freedom of movement which is protected by the South African Constitution. (reference)

3.1.7     Content and skills are geared for the 21st Century

The GED® Testing Service is constantly developing its offering to ensure its quality and integrity, assessment methods to adapt the GED® test to the skills needed in the 21st century. This means that students are equipped with skills for the workplace milieu of the Information Age.

There is a wide range of outstanding resource materials, including text books and online study courses available to students to ensure mastery of the skills required to succeed on the GED® tests. These resources equip students with the technical skills, critical thinking abilities, and global perspectives that are essential for success in today’s world.

3.1.8     Study is self-paced

Since there are no set exam dates and the course is self-paced, students can book and write their GED® tests at accredited Pearson VUE test centres, whenever they are ready. This gives students the advantage of progressing at their own pace, after mastery of the content and skills they are studying. They can also book to write the tests at their own convenience when they feel confident and ready.  Since there is no pressure due to restrictive deadlines for completing the tests, candidates can more easily succeed at earning their GED® credential.

3.1.9     Realises the true aim of education as intended by UNCRC

The GED® is an invaluable tool that puts educational advancement and economic upliftment within the reach of many who are disadvantaged by the traditional school system, in South Africa and around the world and enables the intention of Article 29.1 of the UNCRC to be realized, namely education that is “directed toward the development of each child’s personality and full potential, preparing children to participate in society and to do work that is rewarding and reasonably remunerative, and to continue learning throughout life.”
Statistics show that finding employment without a matric or grade 12 equivalent is near impossible in South Africa and the GED® is an out-of-school solution that helps alleviate this problem.

3.2      Evaluation of the GED® in the light of the “child’s best interest”

For many of the reasons stated above, it is evident that the GED® is a grade 12 equivalent option that is in the best interests of many, who choose home education.

The GED® is a stepping stone that opens the doors of opportunity for further study as well as for professional advancement and success in the workplace of the 21st century.

The GED® is a choice that enables students to be educated in a way that develops “the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential” (Article 29.1 of the UNCRC)”

The GED® is a choice that facilitates freedom of movement between countries without compromising a learner’s education by necessitating a change of school systems.


4.    Conclusion

Since parents have the prior right to choose the form of education in the best interest of the child, since the role of the state is to respect the rights of parents and since the everyone has the right to freedom of access to information and academic freedom, it is evident that the Bill’s requirement, for home educated children to use only the National Senior Certificate for their school-leaving qualification, is a violation of numerous sections of the Constitution.


International alternatives, such as the GED®, which families may choose to be in the best interests of their children should be options that parents have the right to choose, in pursuit of their Constitutional duty to guide, direct and ensure the education of their children.


Section 25 (6) of the BELA Bill that seems to restrict home educators to make use of Umalusi-accredited service providers to register for the Senior Certificate is unlikely to stand up to scrutiny in the light of the Constitution and other applicable international laws and it should therefore be abolished in its entirety.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter

Yours sincerely


Director of Online GED South Africa



[i], accessed 7 November 2017

[ii], accessed 6 November 2017

[iii] Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey, 1 June 2017,, accessed 7 November 2017

[iv], accessed 7 November 2017


A Fresh Perspective on the GED®

A Fresh Perspective on the GED®

29 July 2017

Today, I attended a homeschool seminar by the well-known homeschool consultant, Martie du Plessis, in Hermanus. I have attended her seminar before and heard many of her talks at the various homeschool expos over the years. Each time, I come away with a new perspective on something that she shared. Today was no different. She put my focus on a couple of gems of information, which are now suddenly freshly relevant and have a new significance in own life and for others  that I reach, especially homeschoolers.
One of the things she often speaks about is preparing our children for life in the digital era, an era where they have to learn to thrive amid chaos, an era where they have to learn to focus amid a multitude of distractions and the era of information, where it is no longer the ability to read that is important but the ability to discern WHAT to read.

She also shared testimonies of grown homeschoolers in their 20’s who are now successful in their own businesses and careers. Without fail, they all said that they are successful today because they had TIME…time to spend pursuing the things they loved, TIME with their parents who mentored and encouraged them and TIME to discover who they were, where they belong and how they can serve their community professionally.

Suddenly, I realised that I have been underplaying some of the most significant advantages of choosing to do the GED® credential as an alternative to a traditional matric.

A traditional matric demands that students spend a large amount of time working through an extensive syllabus, learning facts, information and in some cases, a bit of thinking and writing skills in order to pass traditional pen and paper exams.

Most of the service providers offering recognised matric courses, offer courses that replicate the text-book based school system at home – a system that is considered by modern educational experts to be an outdated remnant of the industrial age – a system designed to raise factory-workers, who all shared the same knowledge and clocked in and out and worked on a time-table …and a few became academics or other professionals!

While this kind of system may develop patience, perseverance and diligence in some children, even at home, it robs them of a lot of TIME that could be spent on other pursuits – other things that develop them as a person in ways that time with text books never can, time doing things that might become the basis of a future career path, time learning other things that are much more relevant to life in the 21st century.

The GED® on the other hand test SKILLS in (only) 4 subjects – skills which are considered to be essential for success in the workplace of the 21st Century – maths, reading, writing and a huge emphasis on reasoning and critical thinking. The tests are presented mostly in comprehension test format, so no wasting time cramming obsolete facts and information you will later forget is required. The tests are done on computer – the tool of the future!

Homeschooled students who have had a good, solid education in the 4 subjects of the GED® tests, up to about grade 10 level and beyond, can usually quickly develop and improve the SKILLS that they need to pass the tests.

During this preparation time, and after achieving their GED®, they then have much more TIME to spend on hobbies, new interests and 21st century skills that could become their sources of income in the future.

Learning about crypto-currency trading online

The successful people of the 21st century need to have a completely different skill set from the academics or factory-workers of the previous century– they need to be creative, innovative, collaborators, good communicators, cross-cultural, computer-savvy…these are skills that are not found in text books or even online courses. They are skills that you can develop only by living life, doing new things, working with people, taking risks, working on projects, learning to use new technology and learning from mistakes.

We have to change our thinking and our children’s thinking and help them to understand that they need a much wider range of skills than a traditional matric will ever give them, in order to be successful in the milieu of 21st century.

So the next time someone asks, “Is the GED® a real matric?”, I will answer – “The GED® is not a matric, it is an alternative foreign grade 12 equivalent* that has the potential to set your child free from the outdated educational system of the industrial era, to equip your child with more relevant skills and to launch your child into a new dynamic way of learning, that can bring success in the modern economy!”

It’s a stepping stone on a new path to a new future.

*SAQA (the South African Qualifications Authority) has evaluated the GED® and found the  National Senior Certificate as its closest comparable qualification. SAQA evaluates each submission of a foreign qualification on a case by case basis and therefore students with a GED® are eligible for SAQA Foreign Qualification evaluation.

Prospective clients frequently ask, “How do I know that Online GED is not a scam?” “Is Online GED South Africa legitimate?”

With the growing number of online scammers on the internet it is a very legitimate and responsible question to ask.

Here is information to help you verify that we are not a scam!

Important: Any website offering to give you a GED® credential or diploma online IS A SCAM. You can not get your GED® online. You can only study to prepare for it online!

In order to earn your GED® credential, you have to write the official GED® tests at a verified test centre. You can not write the official GED® tests from home!

In South Africa, the GED® tests are written at 38 branches of Boston City Campus & Business College. The GED® diploma is awarded to successful candidates by the GED Testing Service® in the USA.

What we offer is the online GED® study programme, powered by the Essential Education GED Academy™  online course, to help students prepare for the GED® tests.

Online GED South Africa is run by Shirley Erwee as a sole proprietor. Here is how to check that this is a legitimate business and check her credentials:


1. Head Office

If you contact the GED Head Office in South Africa, they will confirm that Online GED South Africa is one of the licensed service providers, offering the Essential Education GED Academy course. You can contact them at to confirm this. You can phone and speak to one of their consultants too if you are worried about being the victim of a scam.

Only South African content providers listed on that site may use the “powered by Essential Education” logo as shown on our website.

2. Facebook Group

There is also an Online GED South Africa support group on Facebook with over 2000 members, consisting of both prospective and existing clients. You are welcome to join the group and ask other people how they find the course and the service that we offer.  There are members who will gladly give you references. Go to and request to join the closed group.

3.  Homeschool Author

Shirley Erwee on SABC 3 Afternoon Express on 26 April 2016

Furthermore, if you search online for the name, Shirley Erwee, you will find that she is the author of two books about homeschooling published by Penguin Random House South Africa, Homeschooling the Primary Years and Homeschooling High School.

She is also a curriculum provider and runs a website about homeschooling at She offers online courses about starting homeschooling,  getting through high school and various other aspects of homeschooling in South Africa at

4. Homeschool Legal Defence Association

You can also find links recommendations to contact Shirley at the website of the Pestalozzi Trust which is the homeschool legal defence association in South Africa. Go to
You can give them a call to confirm too.

5. Educational Events and Expos

We support and attend educational events around the country such as the Cape Town Home Education Expo, the Gauteng Home Education Expo, the Bertha Centre Career Pathways Youth Event in Philippi Village and other smaller events at learning centres.


Cape Town Homeschool Expo 2017  and    Gauteng Homeschool Expo 2017

Career Pathways Event at Philippi Village in Cape Town, June 2018

Online GED presentation to parents at a learning centre in Edgemead, Cape Town, June 2018

Shirley Erwee is very well-known in the SA homeschool community. She is not a fly-by-night scammer.

You do have to be careful of being ripped off, so use the internet and do your homework and this should give you peace of mind.

When you are ready to enrol and have made the payment, we will activate your account and then guide and assist you all the way through the process of getting your GED® credential, including booking tests, ordering hard copies of the certificate and transcript from the USA and more.