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As Homeschooling Grows Globally, Challenges Grow with It

by Mike Donnelly and Gerald Huebner • April 12, 2018

Homeschooling is a growing global movement—this is clear to us as we make our way around the globe meeting with leaders, policymakers, and families. Many parents have become increasingly frustrated with institutional environments that are unable or unwilling to protect their children from threats such as gun violence, drugs, and bullying, or to provide the kind of education their child needs. In their minds, homeschooling is an increasingly viable option.

However, authorities in some places continue to react defensively. These reactions present a challenge to homeschooling families everywhere—this is why HSLDA has been at the forefront of promoting freedom on a global basis.

Homeschooling: a small world

In a world that has grown closer every year because of improvements in technology and infrastructure, what happens in other countries can impact us here in the United States very quickly. Bad ideas don’t need a visa or passport—and they proliferate easily. We have publicized our efforts in restrictive countries like Germany and Sweden; but we have also noticed an uptick in attempts to impose unreasonable restrictions on homeschooling families in countries with traditionally low regulation. We have seen this in the United Kingdom, Kenya, South Africa, and even here in California, New Hampshire, Hawaii and Maryland.

Prospects moving forward

But there are bright spots: we are excited to see homeschooling growing in countries like the Philippines and Brazil, free from government oppression. While homeschooling may always be a minority movement, I (Mike) estimate that approximately .4% of the school age population globally (about 4% here in the United States) are homeschooled—and the possibility that this global movement will more than double in the decade is very high. The demographics are startling: the number of children is set to more than triple by 2040 to almost 2 billion or about a quarter to a third of the total population. This growth is not being driven by Europe or North America where birth rates below the replacement rate generally, but rather in Africa and Asia (not China). This presents a significant opportunity for the global homeschooling movement as the demand for education will grow as well.

Gerald Huebner is a Canadian who chairs the Global Home Education Exchange Council, an international organization dedicated to supporting this growth. He and I, along with nearly 20 other leaders of other national and supporting organizations, are working hard to provide the connections and support to help the homeschooling movement thrive.

How you can help!

One of the most energizing activities we have this happen is the Global Home Education Conference, which will take place in Russia in about a month. You can learn more about the conference at www.ghec2018.org. We are looking for support and participants.

It is exciting to see the movement grow in a country that was the seat of totalitarian communism for almost a century—and an enemy of the United States, to boot. For me (Mike) as former Army officer, it is incredible that in just a month I will visit Moscow and St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) to speak and host a global conference on homeschooling. This event will include Russian homeschooling families of all philosophies and faiths. It has the support of important institutions in Russia, including the Russian Orthodox Church. Researchers, policy makers and leaders will gather to discuss global issues that confront our movement.

This is our third conference, and will be our biggest yet with nearly 1,000 participants from dozens of countries. Gerald and I talked about the impact of previous conferences, and we are excited for the prospects here.

One of our goals has been to influence public policy by promoting an understanding of the value of home education and the necessity for it to be acknowledged as a human right. The GHEC has provided a much-needed forum to cultivate awareness about home education, its legal framework, social and academic research, and practical experience around the world. We have drafted international declarations including the 2012 (Berlin Declaration) and 2016 (Rio Principles) statements which have been used by advocates all over to impact policy in many countries: Canada, Taiwan, Mexico, South Africa, Canada, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates, among others! The event has also helped found national organizations in a number of countries—including in Russia, where the Home School Support Center is serving as our host organization.

We believe that homeschooling is the fastest growing form of education in the world. Even with challenges ahead of us, it’s exciting to be part of this thriving movement. With your help. we can meet those challenges and equip others to do the same all over the world.

You can learn more about how to help us by visiting www.ghec2018.org.

Michael Donnelly

Senior Counsel, Director of Global Outreach

Mike is an attorney, writer, adjunct professor of government, and frequent media spokesperson on homeschooling, freedom, and parental rights. Read more.

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