Where Is Homeschool Illegal and Banned?
Are you considering moving abroad and are worried that homeschooling may be illegal in your country of destination?
In the United States, homeschooling is booming these days, especially after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic had on the public education system. However, in the rest of the world the picture is more complex than it seems.
If you’re interested in the legality of homeschooling in different parts of the world, keep reading to learn the reasons behind deeming homeschooling illegal, the list of countries where this practice isn’t legal, and the analysis of the homeschooling legal situation in specific nations.
Why Is Homeschool Illegal in Some Countries?
Notwithstanding the growing popularity of homeschooling in the U.S. and other countries, this education practice is still illegal and, in some cases, banned in many nations across the world. It’s worth mentioning that even in the U.S. homeschooling didn’t become legal in all 50 states until 1992.
This begs the question: why declare homeschooling illegal?
Well, during the decades covering the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, public education systems were established across Western countries first, and then all over the world. These systems came with their own truancy laws that made attendance at public schools compulsory.
So, the education paradigm during these years was that the state was responsible for the formal education of children and parents were obligated to send them to school. As we’ll see, in many countries this is still the current paradigm.
In Sweden, for instance, the education authorities based their argument on the children’s right “to be taught and objective and science-based curriculum by professional teachers.” While Germany considers the crucial role that a “school-based education plays in the socialization of children.”
List of Countries Where Homeschooling Is Illegal
The information about homeschooling in different countries around the world is varied and, in some cases, non-existent. However, there’s enough data to compile a long list of nations where homeschool is either illegal or outright banned.
Here it is a comprehensive list of all the countries where homeschooling isn’t legal, followed by a useful image interpreting this data in a world map. After that, you will find comments and details from different countries where information is available about this topic.
1. Sierra Leona
6. North Korea
7. South Korea
12. Bosnia and Herzegovina
25. North Macedonia
26. San Marino
Latin America and the Caribbean
31. Costa Rica
33. El Salvador
35. Trinidad and Tobago
Individual Countries Situation and Analysis
It’s time to discuss the specific situation of some countries where homeschooling is still illegal.
As the biggest economy in Europe, the case of Germany is interesting as it’s completely at odds with its main Western allies such as the US, the UK, and France.
As late as 2019, a German family that was fighting for their right to homeschool their children, lost a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The government even took their children for their parents for three weeks and now they can’t move to another country where homeschooling is legal, because they don’t have the full custody of their children.
The fact that it was the ECHR, the court issuing the ruling, highlights the uncertainty around homeschooling in the European Union, where some countries have regulated it, while others such as Germany and Sweden still outlaw it.
In another high-profile case, a US judge granted a German homeschooling family asylum in the United States. The judge was quoted as saying that “homeschoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress.”
In Sweden, school attendance is compulsory from the age of 6. In 2009, a boy was taken from their parents by the Swedish police, as there were reports that the kid was being homeschooled.
In 2010, a new law was passed adding restrictions on homeschooling.
However, homeschooling may be approved for specific reasons, but the country would not allow it for religious or philosophical reasons.
Spain is the perfect example of how the laws related to homeschooling are in a period of discussion and transition.
On one hand, the Spanish Constitution recognizes the “right of parents to choose their children’s education in accordance with their own personal, moral, and religious convictions.” On the other hand, however, the Spanish education law makes attendance at school compulsory.
When a Spanish family went to court arguing the contradictory nature of these laws, the court ruled in their favor. However, no new laws have been passed to regulate this issue, which puts homeschooling in Spain in a kind of temporary vacuum.
Brazil is another example of the current fluid state of homeschooling laws. As in most countries, homeschooling was illegal in the South American giant, but in recent years there’s been a growing movement to regulate it and make it legal.
The Supreme Court issued a ruling that “deemed homeschooling constitutional,” but that new laws that regulate it were needed. Currently only the state of Parana and the Distrito Federal have legalized homeschooling, while there’s still no federal legislation about it.
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Turkey is an example of a country with extreme regulations against homeschooling. In this nation, every child must be registered in a public or private school.
However, there’s the option of engaging in distance education through Turkey’s national television channels. This practice isn’t considered homeschooling as students are required to go to government-approved sites and take standardized tests.
Parents who fail to send their children to school are charged as criminals and may be sent to prison.
Is There a Right To Be Homeschooled?
This is a hard question to answer and it’s at the center of the legal debate in many countries around the world. Although no right to be homeschooled exists as such, there’s a tension between a freedom and a right that’s behind the current debate surrounding homeschooling.
On the one hand, parents should have the freedom to “raise their children in line with their religious and moral beliefs,” free from interference from the state. On the other hand, all children have a right to education.
The point at which different nations and courts find the balance between the children’s right to education and the parents’ freedom to raise them as they see fit, is reflected in that country’s current laws regarding homeschooling.
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