Homeschooling Leaders Unveil Historic Declaration

This excerpt of an article is taken from THE NEW AMERICAN by kind permission of its author:

Leaders in the homeschooling movement from some two dozen countries signed a historic document dubbed the “Berlin Declaration” on November 3, demanding that governments around the world respect families and the fundamental human right to home education while slamming authorities in places like Germany and Sweden that ruthlessly persecute homeschoolers. deutschen Bericht hier lesen …

The Berlin Declaration, the first of its kind, argues that the right to home educate must be respected by every jurisdiction — after all, no government can legitimately violate the fundamental rights of citizens. Citing multiple human rights documents and a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of homeschooling, the document’s signatories — a surprisingly diverse coalition united by a passion for home education — say the senseless persecution must come to an end.

“It’s an expression of the growing confidence among homeschoolers that this is just another historical struggle for human rights and that we will win,” Swedish Home Education Association (ROHUS) chief and Global Home Education Conference (GHEC) Chairman Jonas Himmelstrand, who fled from Sweden with his family, told The New American. “The Berlin Declaration shows that these rights are already recognized in various human rights conventions; they simply need to be manifested all over the world.”

Assembled in Berlin, Germany, over the weekend for the first Global Home Education Conference, some 200 homeschool leaders, policymakers, experts, parents, and human rights activists have joined forces in the battle to protect and expand educational freedom. With the Berlin Declaration, which outlines various treaties and conventions recognizing the unalienable right to educational freedom, advocates plan to turn the pressure up on certain “rogue” governments.

“We remind all nations that numerous international treaties and declarations recognize the essential, irreplaceable and fundamental role of parents and the family in the education and upbringing of children as a natural right that must be respected and protected by all governments,” the Berlin Declaration explains, citing multiple examples of formal documents in Europe and internationally enshrining parental rights over education.

Even the controversial United Nations, widely perceived among critics as a “dictators club,” has recognized home education as a fundamental human right. In 2007, for example, the UN “Special Rapporteur on Education” officially condemned the German government’s vicious oppression of homeschoolers while stating that home education is an entirely legitimate alternative to state schooling. Multiple binding European human rights treaties are also cited in the Berlin Declaration.

Attorney Michael Donnelly, director of international affairs for the powerful U.S.-based Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and a member of the GHEC board, said the Berlin Declaration was historic. It will also be a key tool going forward as activists from around the world work to support each other in the struggle for educational freedom everywhere.

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