Update: Kenya Court Grants Dad a Chance to Change Law
by Dave Dentel • January 28, 2020
A Kenyan father facing criminal charges for homeschooling his children has been granted the opportunity to challenge his country’s education law.
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Earlier this month, a judge delayed the case against Silas Shikwekwe Were for 90 days so Were can pursue a petition he and another parent filed questioning the criminalization of homeschooling.
The document contends that Kenya’s Basic Education Act violates the rights of children and parents to opt out of institutional forms of schooling.
Reason for Hope
Mike Donnelly, HSLDA Senior Counsel and Director of Global Outreach, said he’s optimistic the turn of events could produce major advances for homeschool freedom in the east African country.
Donnelly worked with Kenyan attorney Eddy Orinda and Orinda’s law firm, One & Associates, to craft the court document that was filed in June 2019.
“It’s an excellent petition,” Donnelly said. “It articulates how home education should be considered both a constitutional and a human right, especially considering how Kenya has signed a number of treaties guaranteeing that parents may direct how their children are taught.”
According to Kenyan news sources, Were and fellow petitioner Onesmus Mboya Orinda are expected to approach the attorney general and director of public education “to explore an alternative resolution to the dispute.”
“What really needs to happen,” Donnelly said, “is for the Kenyan government to amend national law to make provision for home education.”
This sort of legislative solution is not too much to hope for, he added, considering how the homeschool movement has attained success recently in other countries. In Ukraine, for example, years of grassroots activism led to the nation legalizing homeschooling in December 2019.
Donnelly said he believes this is positive progress and is excited that we can advise and “encourage activists to work cooperatively with other homeschoolers to have a united voice.”
According to the Kenyan newspaper The Star, Were and Orinda are due back in court May 20, 2020.
Until then, the two fathers will be working to convince officials to recognize homeschooling. As their petition states, failure to do so “contravenes the rights of children … as well as the right of the parent to determine a course that would take care of the child’s interest.”
Home School Legal Defense Association will be assisting them in those efforts, as we strive to make homeschooling possible for families everywhere.