A new law threatens home-schooling in Portugal. This at least is the claim of Home Schooling Legal Defense Association which reports this week that families are fighting back.
The gist of changes brought in quietly in February are that parents opting to home-school their children here must have university degrees.
They must also receive authorisation from their local council as well as the national director of education and prove that the national curriculum is being followed.
In the case of Portuguese parents seeking to educate their children at home, this latter stipulation may make some kind of sense, but for foreign expats – particularly those who expect their children to go on to further education in their own countries – it makes no sense at all.
Said one over social media: “This is such an unfortunate step backwards for Portugal”.
The US-based Home Schooling Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has condemned the new law for “violating the fundamental rights of parents and children”, and says it will be supporting the legal challenge that has been filed by one of Portugal’s leading homeschool organisations Movimento Educação Livre (MEL).
A text on the HSLDA website describes the 16-page law as “extreme, supremely burdensome and unnecessarily intrusive… an attack on homeschooling freedom everywhere”.
It’s unclear how many children are homeschooled in Portugal. This new law is in essence just further bureaucracy on a lifestyle choice that has already driven many parents ‘underground’.
But for those that have stayed valiantly ‘in sight’, it has come as a monumental slap-in-the-face.
President of MEL Sylvia Copio says there is now “no way” her members feel they can work with the current government.
Indeed the text on HSLDA’s site suggests more families will now “seek to hide from the government”, while some admit to “fearing persecution” in what are dubbed ‘unfriendly school districts’.
The article concludes that MEL is hoping this year’s legislative elections bring in “a more freedom-friendly government”.
But ruling Socialists look set to return – even if still supported by minority left-wing parties.
Thus MEL’s ‘hope’ is tinged with an air of desperation.