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June 1, 2012

Homeschool Leaders Wary As DOE “Endorses” Homeschooling

The Filipino Department of Education (DepEd) recently expressed public support for homeschooling as a solution to overcrowded classrooms. There is a significant teacher shortage in the Southeast Asian country where nearly 35 percent of citizens are under age 15 (compare to 20 percent in the U.S.). The Metro Manila school division recently selected 10,000 students to begin homeschooling, the largest number since the government’s move toward alternative education began three years ago.

Homeschool leaders in the Philippines do not necessarily agree with how the DOE is promoting home education.

“The DOE version of homeschooling is more appropriately labeled ‘home study,’ ” explains Edric Mendoza, chairman of the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI). “Home study requires students to continue using the public school curriculum at home during the week and to meet with a public school teacher on Saturdays.”

To distinguish it from home study, Mendoza notes that in true homeschooling the parent is responsible for the education of the child, not the government.

“Although noble in its intention,” says Mendoza, “right now the recent move by the DepEd to promote homeschooling is more like a desperate attempt of the government to try and provide education to the marginalized than promotion of true alternative education.”

Homeschooling is legal in the Philippines, and the Filipino Constitution itself enshrines the “natural right of parents to rear their children.” Even so, many homeschoolers in the Philippines choose to affiliate with umbrella schools that offer homeschool programs accredited by the DOE. Established in 2009, HAPI has approximately 1,000 member families.

HSLDA Staff Attorney and Director of International Relations Michael Donnelly says that homeschooling is growing internationally. Mendoza agreed that homeschooling is growing in the Philippines.

“We were very excited,” Mendoza said, “with over 3,000 attendees at our fourth annual homeschool conference. We are also grateful for the financial and moral support we get from HSLDA and homeschoolers from the United States.”

Donnelly said HSLDA was pleased to support HAPI.

“Providing financial support and guidance to fledgling homeschool organizations is an important way HSLDA is able to contribute to the growth of home education around the world. In partnership with the Home School Foundation, HSLDA has been able to award a number of grants to newly formed national level homeschool organizations, like HAPI in the Philippines. As homeschooling grows internationally it is important that homeschoolers connect for mutual support and encouragement in face of the common threats we encounter.”

Donnelly noted a concerning parallel with the home study strategy of the Philippine DOE and the growth of virtual charter schools in America.

“In the United States we have a similar problem regarding confusion about public school at home programs and private home education,” Donnelly said. “In a number of states public schools now offer virtual learning programs over the Internet. Children enrolled in these programs, however, remain public school students, and parents are limited in what they can teach and how they can teach. Although these programs come with curriculum and often other tangible incentives, the loss of control and flexibility are significant. We’ve seen a number of parents who try these programs returning to private homeschooling.”

 Other Resources

“Homeschooling as an Alternative to Sending Kids to School”

“Philippines Looks to Homeschooling to Accommodate Different Struggles”