Homeschooling Family Arrested, Supreme Court Asked to Intervene
by Mike Donnelly • August 21, 2019
The Kenyan Supreme Court has been asked to determine the constitutionality of home education in the case of two parents who were prosecuted for truancy, but were providing an excellent education for their children at home.
In early 2019, Silas Were and his children were arrested. While the mother was ordered to provide learning materials to the police, the father and children were taken to a local jail and locked up overnight.
They were not immediately informed of the charges against them.
The three children, ages 13, 10, and 6, spent the night in the female cell unit without any food. Mrs. Were was not allowed to bring them any food until 1:45 p.m. the following day.
Mr. Were was charged with neglect for not sending his children to school, even though he was able to demonstrate that the children were being taught with solid curriculum. The court agreed to give the children back only after evidence was provided that they were enrolled and would be attending school.
Reports are emerging from Kenya of similar harsh enforcement against Kenyan homeschooling families. A country like Kenya, that cannot even provide enough schools for all of its children, should not treat parents who homeschool harshly.
Given Kenya’s influence in East Africa, this case will likely have repercussions beyond the country’s borders.
HSLDA has been consulting with the attorneys who have filed the case, asking the court to rule that home education is a legal right. The attorneys in the case have submitted an excellent complaint citing national and international law for the proposition that homeschooling is a right that should be respected in Kenya.
Homeschooling is growing all around the world. In countries like Kenya, that have little experience with the movement, governments should take time to evaluate home education rather than reacting with immediate harshness to a novel educational approach. Officials would quickly discover the experience and research that exists around the world supporting the practice.
Homeschooling delivers on the academic and social needs of children. Governments may not legitimately presume homeschooling is an invalid form of education and treat parents as criminals for choosing a different way to educate their children. HSLDA is working with the East African Community of Homeschoolers (EACH), a growing regional organization, to support the call for homeschooling freedom in Kenya and all of Africa.
A regional African homeschooling conference will be held in October 2019 in South Africa. HSLDA Senior Counsel Michael Donnelly will speak at the event and call on African authorities to respect the rights of families and to encourage them to treat homeschooling with respect.