God has established homeschooling families as cities of refuge (Bible, Joshua 20:2), where children can maintain a pure heart, and learn with joy and peace together with parents. We in Latvia see that the lives of people with various backgrounds are being transformed by the power of God, using homeschooling as a beautiful tool.
The homeschooling movement in Latvia has grown quite rapidly, particularly in the last five years. This has happened mainly due to the crisis of values in society as a whole and an increasing dissatisfaction with education in the public schools. More and more families are “taking back” the responsibility for their children’s eduaction. The majority are faith-based families, mostly Christians.
Homeschooling is legal in Latvia for for children up to grade four. The law currently requires families to partner with a school. Parents must agree about the frequency of monitoring and the regular examinations recommended by the school.
On May 9, 2015 there was a national gathering for the Latvian Home School Association, Ģimeņu Skolu Apvienība. This newly founded association unites 60 members. Although that may seem like a small group of people in a country of 2.3 million, most of these families are very devoted and highly-motivated to work sacrificially in the field of homeschooling and to buildg up the reputation of homeschooling as an effective form of education. Some of the families are well-known in Latvian society and regularly give interviews about homeschooling progress.
This May gathering covered important information about a positive legislative development for homeschooling that will hopefully become law in September 2015. The proposed legislation is very significant and grew out of discussions and negotiations in a workgroup about homeschooling held by Latvian Ministry of Education and Science in November 2014.
Currently, the homeschool regulations in Latvia demand:
- A written notification of intent to homeschool by the parents of the student (1st to 4th grade) and coordination with the local government;
- Parents verify that the student requires special conditions for studying which cannot be ensured by the educational institution, due to psychological reasons;
- Necessary study conditions have been created for the student at home;
- Parents and the administration of the educational institution have coordinated the procedures by which parents shall be advised and the procedures by which teachers of the educational institution shall evaluate the study achievements of the student during the year.
The proposed legislation will make three significant improvements after September 2015:
- The 5th and 6th grade classes will be added for homeschooling;
- There will be no need for coordination with the local government; only with the founder of the school;
- The conclusion of a psychologist will be required.
There are only a few public schools that are prepared to work with homeschooling families. Most of the homeschooling students (approximately 60) from Latvia are currently registered in a private Christian school called Universum in Valmiera, 100 kilometers north of the Latvian capital Riga. This school is committed to remaining a long-term partner for homeschooling families.
Please, join us in praying for:
- Positive, continual changes in homeschooling legislation;
- Wisdom for every homeschooling family to see their long-term goals realized in everyday life; and
- Finances for developing homeschooling support centres in four regions of Latvia.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” We understand that education plays the key role in raising a responsible next generation. Ezekiel 22:30 says, “I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap,” Will you stand in the gap together with us? God bless you all.
Andis Apsitis is Chairman of the foundation “Life and Light Latvia” and principal of Valmiera Christian school Universum. Contact him at GSM: +371 28380104.