|HOME SCHOOLING / INTERNATIONAL|
HSLDA Writes Maltese Education Minister—Allow Home Education
Proposed legislation snatches hope from families working to legalize homeschooling on island nation
|Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly is HSLDA’s director of global outreach Read more >>|
Homeschooling families in Malta face new challenges from a proposed Education Act, which would heavily restrict their ability to teach their children at home. The new law, which will go before the Maltese Parliament this year, has left a group of 10 Maltese families “in despair,” according to an email they sent to HSLDA.
“The proposed Education Act does not make provision for exemptions for home schooling,” said Abigail Giuffrè, a homeschooling mother and the founder of Malta Homeschool Families. Giuffrè says the act would only allow homeschooling in “special circumstances” to be designated by government officials.
Families are dismayed by the proposed act, which came despite their efforts to work and meet with Education Minister Evarist Bartolo and his staff during the past year.
“Restrictions on homeschooling had never been mentioned to us before,” one homeschool mom told HSLDA. She also noted that families are contemplating next steps, including leaving their homeland and moving elsewhere, if the proposed law is not changed in favor of homeschooling.
The newly formed Malta Homeschool Families association has sparked interest from 475 individuals on its Facebook page. In addition, the association has put significant effort into building a resource lending library to help families learn about homeschooling, which is a new phenomenon to many on the island.
Mike Donnelly, HSLDA’s director of global outreach, wrote to Minister Bartolo to express his concerns that Malta might be violating the rights of parents. (Read his letter here.)
“Malta’s proposed law is unnecessarily restrictive, following the lead of a few European countries that effectively prohibit homeschooling by using terminology such as ‘exceptional circumstances,’ ” Donnelly said. “Malta would become like Germany and Sweden. I have contacted the minister of education, and I hope that Malta will change their proposed law to protect the right of all parents to direct the education of their children.”
Maltese law currently provides a legal basis for parents to choose to home educate, stating: “It is the right of every parent of a minor to give his decision with regard to any matter” concerning the minor’s education. Homeschooling is a growing alternative to Malta’s public schools. The Malta Homeschool Families organization has sought to unite those families interested in homeschooling in Malta by equipping and encouraging them and providing them with practical assistance. Passing the Education Act would greatly harm these efforts, and could force these families to emigrate, extinguishing the start of Malta’s fledgling homeschool community.
In addition to its own laws, Malta is a member of both the European Union and the United Nations. That makes it a party to numerous international treaties and documents that support and protect a parent’s right to direct the education of their child. By enacting the Education Act, Malta would be overlooking its own obligations, and would be ignoring the right of hundreds of families to determine the type of education that their children receive.
Please take a moment to send an email to the minister of education, expressing your support for these Maltese families. You can reach the minister at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have included suggested text below that you are welcome to use and adjust. You might also include a sentence or two about your family’s positive homeschool experience and/or the accomplishments of your graduates. Please also consider forwarding this to others.
Dear Minister Bartolo,
I am writing to you concerning the proposed Education Act that the Maltese Parliament will soon be considering. This act severely limits the rights of parents to determine what kind of education their children should receive. Please take whatever action you can to protect the educational freedom of families, parents, and children as you implement the draft Education Act.
We urge you to include provisions that protect the right of parents to choose to home educate their children, and we hope you will continue to seek input from the growing number of families in Malta who seek to exercise their right to direct the education of their children.
International law, as recognized by the European Union and the United Nations, affirms the important role that parents play in making decisions for their children’s education. Both the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognize that parents have the right to make these decisions. Passing the Education Act would severely restrict this right, and would make it available only under narrow circumstances.
The family must be respected as an integral unit of any democratic society and the right to educate is a vital part of that unit. Thank you for your service and for supporting all families in Malta.
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