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February 4, 2004

Update on Homeschooling in the Netherlands

Homeschooling was recently targeted by the Ministry of Education, but a quick response by Dutch homeschoolers and homeschoolers around the world accomplished an important victory.

In the Netherlands home education is currently not a legal option. Homeschooling parents may try to get an exemption from school registration, but only for deeply felt religious or philosophical reasons. However, these exemptions are recognized with great reluctance, for children are not considered to be educated effectively without public school attendance. Many are denied. Once a child has attended a school even this option is barred.

Now only the parents of about a 100 children have been able to avoid this trap to secure their freedom. Many more families would like to home-educate their children but are not able to get their way without years filled with court cases and child protection investigations.

In an attempt to regulate homeschooling even further, Maria van der Hoeven, the Dutch Minister of Education, proposed a plan to restrict homeschooling to the Education Committee of the Dutch House of Representatives on October 30, 2003.

Dutch homeschoolers contacted Chris Klicka, HSLDA's Director of International Relations. HSLDA immediately sent out an elert to its member families urging them to call the Netherlands Embassy in Washington, D.C., and to write to the Dutch Education Committee, in order to explain that homeschooling works.

Homeschoolers sent thousands of emails to the various Ministers of Parliament and HSLDA sent Dutch homeschoolers a package of materials to assist in their lobbying efforts.

While the Education Committee granted the Minister of Education the authority to develop legislation for the inspection of homeschooling, we believe that homeschoolers accomplished a major victory for the following reasons: first, we delayed any immediate efforts to regulate homeschooling (though there may be upcoming battles), secondly, the Education Committee has been informed about homeschooling as an issue. Most Members of Parliament did not think the issue was very important because it only effects 50 families that are legally homeschooling. Third, Dutch homeschoolers were able to make some good contacts with Ministers who are sympathetic to homeschooling and this will be vital for any future battles for homeschool freedom.

Dutch homeschool groups will continue to develop relationships with Ministers and lobby for easing the restrictions on homeschooling.

Thank you for your efforts for freedom!