What would you do if you wanted to direct the education of your child and that freedom was taken away? That is what happened to the Gonzales family in Ecuador—who now must look to the homeschool movement in the United States for ideas on how to change the laws in their own country.
Mr. and Mrs. Gonzales heard about the benefits of homeschooling through their pastor, who spoke at a homeschooling conference in Ecuador. When they decided to take their daughter Katherine out of school and teach her at home, he recommended that the Gonzales family become members of HSLDA because homeschooling in Ecuador is under strict regulation.
Mr. and Mrs. Gonzalez chose homeschooling for their daughter because the school system requires activities and subjects that are contrary to their Christian faith. They also felt they could provide a better education at home.
On October 24, they were summoned to an “audencia” with the Ministry of Education. HSLDA Global Outreach Director Mike Donnelly provided a letter from HSLDA and a memorandum on the benefits of homeschooling for the meeting.
The Ministry of Education let the Gonzales family remove their daughter Katherine’s files from the local school. But a few days later, the “junta” known as child protection services called for an audience.
The Gonzales family lost the hearing and CPS demanded that they return their daughter to school, even though the representatives from the Ministry of Education and those on the CPS board had differing opinions on home education. Some officials recognized the legality of Katherine’s withdrawal from school and others stated that homeschooling is not legal.
The reason for the monitoring was that the principal of the school had sent a notice to CPS. Mrs. Gonzales cited the constitution of Ecuador and the Ministerial Accord, but under this accord education at home can only be provided when children are living far from an educational institution or because of illness. Neither category applied to the Gonzales family.
The district representative stated that “. . . we have handed over the file because we cannot prevent the parents from placing their child where they believe is best. We as an institution are not infringing the rights of the child. The child may return when she wishes; the education of the children is the parents’ responsibility.”
Citing the Code of Children and Adolescents multiple times, however, the council decided that the Gonzales family was infringing on the rights of their daughter. It also claimed that the state is responsible to protect the rights of the child.
For now, Katherine has been forced to return to school. But with the help of Home School Legal Defense Association, ADF International and others, the Gonzales family may be able to break through the bureaucracy and champion the cause for freedom of education in Ecuador.
Please keep this family in your prayers and share this article to raise awareness about the legal situation in Ecuador.