Brazil’s Homeschoolers Look to Congress after Supreme Court Decision
by Mike Donnelly • September 19, 2018
Two justices ruled last week that homeschooling is permitted under the Brazilian constitution. But a majority stated that although homeschooling does not violate the constitution, it has to be recognized by federal statute. Education law is under the authority of the federal government in Brazil.
Homeschool advocates had hoped a majority of the court would find implicit recognition of homeschooling in the Brazilian constitution, particularly under the provision which states that the government “has the power to take a census of elementary school students, call them for enrollment and ensure that parents or guardians see to their children’s attendance to school.” HSLDA supported this view in a legal opinion, arguing that the right of parents to homeschool should be considered fundamental and that school attendance should not be confused with education.
Seeking a Determination
According to state prosecutor Carlos Chavier, who analyzed the case, the specific legal process before the court was a writ of mandamus—a document that calls on a party to carry out an official duty. In the writ, a family who had been charged with truancy requested the court to determine that children in Brazil have a clear legal right to be taught at home by their parents.
Apparently because of the high standard imposed by the writ, and the lack of explicit text regarding home education in the constitution, most justices were not willing to grant its provisions. This decision frustrated Chavier, especially in light of some of the court’s past decisions.
As he pointed out in a video, “When the court wants to be activist to go against the constitution it can, but when it doesn’t want to it won’t. Very convenient.”
Friends in Congress
Although the result was technically a loss, the case has achieved many positive outcomes. It helped bring homeschooling to the attention of the federal congress, where there are many supporters of home education. These include Congressman Eduardo Bolsinaro, the son of the presidential candidate Jair Bolsinaro, who is also a known supporter of home education. Eduardo Bolsinaro and numerous other members of a variety of political parties have spoken about the benefits of home education in the Brazil.
Alan Rick Miranda is a member of the Democratas party in the Brazilian congress. He told HSLDA that he intends to fight for the homeschooling community in Brazil.
“Citizens of Brazil should have the express legal right to educate their children according to their convictions,” he said. “This is an important matter for me, and I will be working with other members of the parliament to bring this matter to a positive resolution for the people of Brazil.”
Rick previously traveled to the Global Home Education Conference in Russia as a speaker.
“The global homeschooling movement is [composed of] an impressive group of people who are committed to teaching their children. It is a beautiful thing that we must have in Brazil! If people are allowed to homeschool in Russia, then they must be allowed to homeschool in Brazil, too.”
Time to Act
The court’s decision will not become final until it is officially published by the court. In the interim, advocates hope that the congress will act to protect people from any further truancy prosecutions. A stay had been ordered by the court while the case was pending.
Brazil has a fast-growing homeschooling movement, and it is expected that the pressure to officially recognize homeschooling as the law in Brazil will become an important issue for many in Congress now that the supreme court has acted. HSLDA will continue its support of Brazilian homeschoolers as they seek the same freedoms that we enjoy in the United States.
If you are able, will you make tax-deductible donation to the Homeschool Freedom Fund to help us help these Brazilian advocates for homeschool freedom? We have enjoyed the blessings of liberty to homeschool in America for decades. Our example has inspired hundreds of thousands around the world. By supporting our work in Brazil, you help advance a global cause and strengthen our right here at home.