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May 9, 2013

Court Bias Against Home Education

By Juhani Paavolainen

The Supreme Administrative Court denied homeschoolers free access to school materials in a ruling handed down on April 16th that upheld the Administrative Court of Hameenlinna’s previous denial. The Basic Education Act doesn’t explicitly grant school materials to home educated children, argued the Court, and so only children at public schools are eligible for free books. A Finnish homeschool family, together with Suomen kotiopettajat, appealed the initial decision to seek a ruling that would protect equal treatment in distribution of school materials. The court was looking for more specific legislation that would guarantee homeschoolers the same rights as those going to public school; however, this is odd as the school children’s right to free education and school materials is based directly on the Finnish constitution, not the education law.

According to the professor of constitutional law Tuomas Ojanen at the University of Helsinki, the Court’s decision is unconstitutional. Both the constitution and the Parliamentary Constitutional Law Committee are unanimous: there must be explicit law that denies equal treatment if the constitutional right to free education and free access to materials is to be restricted.

Suomen kotiopettajat Chairman Juhani Paavolainen says this could provide the basis for a case to the European Human Rights Court (ECHR) in Strasbourg.

“The ECHR should consider home education a human right,” explains Paavolainen, “particularly in a country like Finland where the constitution explicitly provides for home education.”

Juhani Paavolainen is chairman of Suomen kotiopettajat, the national Home Educators Association in Finland.

 More Information

Learn more by visiting HSLDA’s Finland page.