Top U.N. Education Officer Says Homeschooling Threatens “Harm to Children and Adolescents”

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The top education officer for the United Nations agency UNICEF has lashed out at a movement to establish the rights of homeschooling parents in Brazil, where the practice is currently largely unregulated.

As a bill to legally recognize homeschooling makes its way, after years of failed attempts, to the National Congress, Italo Dutra declared in a statement that homeschooling poses a “risk” to the rights of children and threatens “harm to children and adolescents … because the school is fundamental to guaranteeing the right to learning, socialization, and a plurality of ideas, in addition to being an essential space for the protection of girls and boys against violence.”

The Washington Examiner notes that opponents of homeschool are calling on lawmakers to impose strict requirements for homeschool families, such as regular evaluations or even that any homeschooling parents be required to hold a college degree.

The outlet says that home education is “flourishing” without national regulation, but that families have been seeking legal recognition for over two decades.

In 2018, the country’s Supreme Court determined that while the practice of homeschooling was protected by Brazil’s constitution, it needed to be recognized by federal law.

The National Congress is the South American nation’s federal legislature and, thanks to new leadership, the necessary bill to establish this recognition has finally been able to move forward.

President Jair Bolsonoro vowed during his 2018 campaign that he would legalize homeschooling nationally.

The Examiner also points out that Dutra seems to be sorely mistaken on the purposes of institutional education.

Both the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the U.N.’s International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights recognize the basic rights of parents to make the primary decisions about how their children are educated.

Meanwhile, UNESCO’s World Education Monitoring Report in 2020 recognized that the homeschool movement was growing, while this year, the U.N special rapporteur on the right of education, Koumbou Boly Barry warned against the authoritarian tendencies of public schooling and urged U.N. member nations to protect the “freedom of parents to provide their children with a religious and moral education in line with their own convictions.”

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