Why Should We be Concerned About Homeschool Freedom in Other Countries?
Many countries’ governments believe that allowing parents to decide what and how to teach their children is a threat to their nation. Therefore, many nations have a strong federal government with a deep reach into the lives of its citizens. Families in those countries may never experience the freedom and liberty we have here in the United States, including the freedom to homeschool.
Home education is currently illegal in Germany and severely restricted in Sweden and France. In addition, several countries around the globe seek to severely limit parents’ rights to make decisions about their children’s education. These countries include Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Romania, and Spain. Parents in these countries frequently face hefty fines, court battles, jail time, and the removal of their children from their homes—simply for parents’ decisions to teach their own children.
The United Nations (UN) is an especially huge concern because a large percentage of its governing body are countries run on socialist or communist agendas; both systems that suppress individual freedoms. Though the United States is unique when it comes to maintaining and preserving freedom and liberty for its citizens, historically, our policies are heavily influenced by European ideology and especially the UN. Therefore, in countries, such as the United States, where we have freedom to home educate, we must be concerned about the freedom for families to educate their children at home in other countries. This is an imperative and integral component to preserving our freedom to homeschool in the United States.
Founding of the Global Home Education Exchange
The Global Home Education Exchange, GHEX for short, was originally formed as GHEC, Global Home Education Conference. The first conference was in Berlin, Germany in 2012. The purpose was to underscore the injustice of government oppression by making the case that home education is a human right of the first order. Hundreds of homeschool leaders from around the world gathered and signed the Berlin Declaration, which calls on all countries to respect and protect the right of home education. Homeschool leaders chose to convene in Germany in part to highlight that nation’s policy of persecuting homeschoolers.
Mission of GHEX
The mission of GHEX is to advance the idea that parents – and not the state – have the right to decide and direct the education of their children.
GHEX is engaging policy makers and country leaders with the important questions that surround home education:
Who is responsible for education?
What role do parents play in the education of their children?
To what extent is the state responsible for children’s education?
GHEX believes that the ability to choose home education is a right. It’s a right well-documented in international law.
This concept cuts across cultures, methods, and beliefs. It exists regardless of motivation or methodology. GHEX is working to connect and inform the global education community—from policy makers to home education organizations, leaders, and families—through the use of technology, newsletters, regional and global conferences, and moderated exchange of information.
GHEX is for anyone with an interest in home education to connect, interact, ask questions, seek advice, and request support.
Home Education Support
GHEX supports the growth of home education through three avenues:
Advocacy – Meeting with government leaders and policy makers to state that homeschooling can make a positive contribution to their society.
Outreach – Knowing that leaders need support and encouragement, regional conferences are held to hit on specific topics for different regions. A global conference is usually held every two years.
Research – The results and statistics from research conducted in the Western world give people a solid foundation and addresses questions - but much more needs to be done in other regions.
In addition to Berlin, GHEX organized and hosted other conferences:
2016 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2018 - St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia
2020 - Scheduled for Manila, Philippines but was derailed due to COVID.
The GHEX board just decided on the location for the next Conference – Manchester, England, in the summer of 2024, and YOU ARE INVITED!
How Can You Help?
The United States has the strongest entity of homeschool families and we have the ability and resources necessary to articulate the value of educating our children at home. When it comes to homeschooling, the U.S. has over thirty years of home education experience, research, and curriculum, and we have already fought to solidify and maintain homeschool freedom. This equips us to have a substantial and effective influence on other nations.
Fellow homeschool parents, our voices play a key role in helping other countries fight for their freedom to homeschool.
It is imperative for us to work hard to influence other countries’ homeschool laws and regulations to foster freedom and liberty before the UN drafts a treaty severely restricting our current freedom and liberty to homeschool in the U.S.
You can make a difference in preserving homeschool freedom around the world. When you receive communications about writing a letter or sending an email to a foreign government, take action. You may be the resonating voice that keeps a German homeschool family together. Your correspondence could cause the president of France to pause at a crucial moment; instead of signing a bill that would infringe on parental rights, he may just veto it.
If you think your voice will not make a difference, you are wrong. Your email or letter is truly golden.
Visit the Global Home Education Exchange website and support their mission!
Barbara West started homeschooling the oldest of their five children in 1988. She has experience homeschooling in seven states and overseas. In addition to homeschooling, Barbara has been a speaker at homeschool conferences in the U.S. and abroad. She has written articles and devotions for several homeschool publications. Barbara manages the Facebook page, “Homeschooling Colorado” and serves on the board of the Global Home Education Exchange, promoting the parental right to homeschool around the globe. Familiar with serving through and creating homeschool support groups and co-ops, Barbara and her husband, Bruce, serve local homeschool families through the Colorado Springs Homeschool Sports League.
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