Seven years’ perseverance rewarded with legislative recognition of right to home educate
What’s been said?
American HE networking organisation Euro Home Ed reported a positive outcome for Lithuanian home educators in an article published 16 December 2019, President Nausėda Signs Bill Re-Establishing Homeschool in Lithuania.
The background to this success story is that the Lithuanian Homeschooling Association (Mokymosi šeimoje asociacija) have been waging “an energetic campaign” to overturn a ban imposed in 2012 and “grant parents the natural right of raising their children at home.” Every form of home education was banned apart from “‘distance learning’ students enrolled in public school.”
On 3 December of last year the Association’s efforts were rewarded, when the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) unanimously voted with just seven abstentions to legalise HE in the country. Since then, amendments have been added requiring “regular educational progress inspections by local school administrators.”
The Association was, however, able to withstand the Ministry of Education’s additional demands for “inspection by child care services and a review by the Pedagogical Psychological Service” before enrolment through a school could take place. The Association stood their ground, insisting that “no mediation between the family’s request and the school’s decision was required.”
Bill XIIIP-3329 (2) was then signed into law by President Nausėda on 12 December. The Ministry of Education is currently preparing its “regulation process and substatutory acts.” This stage should be completed by April, and the first registered home educators should be able to begin their studies from September 2020.
It is heartening to read of the public support given to these measures from one TS-LKD Member of Parliament. Vytautas Juozapaitis is reported as saying,”Don’t be afraid of this proposal. I think, in a democracy, we should give people the opportunity to raise their children at home.”
The article concludes with observations from Euro Home Ed, noting that constitutionally it is education rather than school which is compulsory in Lithuania. Hence they saw no “fundamental legal obstacle” standing in the way of parental freedom to opt for home education.
They anticipate that parents will need to submit an application via their local school, and once this has been reviewed, the only other requirement will be a regular inspection – frequency of the latter as yet unknown.
Euro Home Ed commented further that, in their view, legislators had made the right choice “by opening the door to the education system of the future.”
Why does it matter?
Here is an encouraging reminder that persevering together with other home educating parents can bring results. It was particularly inspiring to read of a politician urging the public not to be suspicious of HE, and defending the opportunity for parents to raise their children at home, in the name of democracy.
Though Lithuanian home educators may regret the imposition of an application procedure and regular inspections, looking wistfully at other less regulated locations, their situation is so much better than it was eight years ago. There is much to be thankful for. Had they done nothing, they would not be in this position today.
As home educators in countries with comparatively large amounts of HE freedom, we can learn two important lessons from this:
i) If obstacles are put in the way of home education, it is important to speak up there and then, rather than allowing the new situation to get entrenched and become viewed as the normal.
ii) If home education is permissible, as it currently is in different countries of the UK, we should do all we can to defend and maintain that freedom for the sake of future generations. Regular readers will be familiar with various attempts to restrict it in England, Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man, as illustrated by many of the articles on this site.
What can I do?
Be thankful for the HE freedoms which presently prevail in the UK, in comparison with other European countries. A previous Byte on Home Education Policies in Europe reminded readers of this, with reference to an EU Publications Office document. See Figure 2 on page 6 of this publication for visual confirmation of the unique situation in the UK, particularly with regard to educational supervision and progress assessment.
Make use of sites such as Euro Home Ed to familiarise yourself with what home educators face in other European countries and beyond.
Keep up to date with developments in the UK too. Be an ambassador for the benefits of HE and take every opportunity to counter the negative image of it put forward in many quarters.
Continue with your efforts to ensure that parental responsibility and the associated freedom to home educate are not usurped by the state, wherever you live.