The city of Rio de Janeiro showed its warm hospitality to 214 homeschool leaders, researchers, parents, and interested policymakers from around the globe during the second Global Home Education Conference. The five-day event, March 8–12, “exceeded all expectations,” according to Gerald Huebner, chairman of the GHEC 2016 Organizing Committee and veteran home educator from Canada.
“The Rio conference generated a large body of unique content from expert speakers,” explained Michael Donnelly, HSLDA Global Outreach Director and secretary for the GHEC 2016 Organizing Committee. “New research, expert presentations, and firsthand experiences of international homeschoolers are now available—where else can you find resources like these?”
The GHEC 2016 built on the 2012 GHEC in Berlin, Germany, attended by 191 homeschool leaders and influencers. Read on for more highlights and outcomes from the second global conference on home education.
A Research Track featured 17 unique research studies on home education by academics from Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Spain, and the United States. Research varied from national perspectives on home education, to policy papers, to empirical studies.
Leaders in the home education movement, parents, members of the media, policymakers, and researchers from 25 countries met together, learned from one another, and strategized for the future. Countries represented included Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
A total of 48 keynote and workshop speakers originated from six continents and offered exceptional motivation, resources, and experience. Distinguished guests Dr. Sugata Mitra, the Duke of Bragança, and Dr. Jan De Groof were joined by the founders of homeschool programs and curriculums, home-educated graduates, parents persecuted for home education, academic researchers, policymakers and government advisors, attorneys, and the leaders of support groups and other specialized groups. Their presence and contributions made the content offered in Rio unparalleled.
Five plenary sessions built the daily foundation, equaling 42 sessions. “Home Education: It’s A Right” led to “Home Education: It’s A Success” and concluded with “Home Education: Moving Forward.” Twenty workshop sessions provided opportunities for leadership, policy, research, and general interest topics such as socialization, the special needs child, using social media, and the power of relationships and the heart of homeschooling, among others. Two days of preconference sessions offered practical assistance for leadership and organizational development and the opportunity for influencers in the Brazilian home education community to encourage Brazilian families.
The conference theme, “Home Education: It’s A Right,” provided an important framework for the event. This was true especially in light of an important case before the Brazilian Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of home education. Noteworthy speakers contributing to the legal perspective included UNESCO Chair in Right to Education Dr. Jan De Groof, Professor of Law Dr. Ingo Richter from the University of Tubingen and Paris–Nanterre, and HSLDA’s Michael Farris and Director for Global Outreach Michael Donnelly. Erwin Fabián García López of Colombia, Franco Iacomella of Argentina, and others discussed the impact for Latin America. Dorinha Seabra and Lincoln Portela from the Brazilian Congress spoke about their support for the right to home-educate in Brazil.
The organizers of the GHEC 2016 declared the Rio Principles during the conference. The Rio Principles build on the Berlin Declaration, issued at the GHEC 2012, and provide an easily accessible list of essential factors relating to the family’s role in education. Through this document, consisting of 10 principles, the authors “hope that all cultures, peoples, nations and states will have regard for these principles that have been developed over time and are recalled here. The application of these principles can help the world realize the promise of freedom and human flourishing.” Read the Rio Principles.
An entirely donation-based event, the GHEC 2016 was truly a global effort, drawing on the support of homeschool associations around the world and in particular homeschool providers and other like-minded educational freedom organizations based in the United States. GHEC 2016 consisted of 18 sponsors including Classical Conversations, Institute for Excellence in Writing, Home School Foundation, Canadian Centre for Home Education, HSLDA, Journal of School Choice, Christianbook.com, OIDEL, TMA Homeschool, Apologia Mission, Homeschool Buyers Co-op, Clonlara School, Novae Terrae Foundation, HSLDA Online Academy, Home Life Academy, Demme Learning, Creative Electives, and Hip Homeschool Moms, and 48 endorsing associations.
Home education: It's a right
Distinguished and expert speakers will help us consider the status of freedom of education in our world today, examine the contribution of home education to this landscape, and provide context for important discussions about home education and its legal framework, academic and social research, and practical experience.
Human rights documents from international and regional bodies including the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, and the Organization of American States have identified repeatedly that parents have a prior right to direct the education of their children. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, issued by the UN, most famously affirms: “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” Other documents, ranging from regional human rights treaties to the constitutions of individual countries, similarly enshrine this reality. The Berlin Declaration, adopted at the GHEC 2012, catalogues these documents and each reference.
The United States alone has more than two million students who are currently educated at home. Australia, Canada, France, South Africa, and the United Kingdom also boast vast numbers of home-educating families. To date, there are home education communities on every continent (less the Antarctica, for now). Home education has existed for nearly four decades in North America; more than a decade in Europe, Oceania, and parts of Eurasia; and, in recent years, is expanding in Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Southeast Asia. Observable reality plainly shows that home education is benefiting children and families in countries all around the world.
Why is home education on the rise worldwide?
Home education meets the need of families who are dissatisfied for various reasons—bullying, low academic standards, religious and philosophical convictions, among other motivations—with traditional education solutions. The one-size-fits-all reality of traditional schooling doesn’t fit everyone.
As home education has increased in popularity, it has already been the subject of increasing social research. Numerous studies demonstrate that home-educated students become responsible citizens who are productive members of society.
Studies have also concluded that students educated at home develop into well-rounded and socially integrated adults. Indeed, experience shows that home-educated children are more mature and better socialized than their public school counterparts. Home-educated children often interact with a range of age groups. In addition, the flexible schedule that home education allows for provides more time for children to become involved in a variety of extracurricular activities. These factors, among others, cause researchers to observe that “home[-educated] children’s social skills are exceptional.”
Home education also produces academically successful students. Educational achievement tests document that home-educated students attain higher scores than public school students, on average between 15 and 30 percentile points above public school averages. A number of studies reveal that this is true for all grade levels and subjects. Research also shows there is no correlation between high test scores and government regulation.
As well-adjusted, academically successful students who become responsible and engaged citizens, home-educated graduates offer tangible examples that home education is not merely a viable educational option for students. This rising form of education promises the potential for success beyond that offered in a traditional school setting.
We are excited to announce that the GHEC 2016 will include an emphasis on research findings and will feature empirical research, as well as policy and theoretical papers, from veteran and emerging scholars alike.
Our goal: Awareness and change
The GHEC 2016 will provide a forum to cultivate awareness about home education and its legal framework, social and academic research, and practical experience around the world. The GHEC 2016 will also promote change, as the right of parents to direct the education of their children is challenged by governments around the world.
Home education is currently illegal in Germany and essentially banned in Sweden. In our host country of Brazil, the practice is undefined, which has led in the past to oppression of families who choose to home-educate. Parents in these countries frequently face hefty fines, court battles, jail time, and the removal of their children from the home—simply for their decision to teach their children. In addition, a number of countries around the globe seek to limit severely a parent’s right to make decisions about their children’s education. These countries include Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Romania, and Spain. Even in countries where there is freedom to home-educate, such as the United States, families must continue to fight to maintain the freedom to raise their children.
The ability to choose home education is a right. It’s a right well-documented in international law. It’s our right as parents to direct the education of our children. And it’s the right of children to receive an individualized education experience that best suits their needs and goals.
This concept cuts across cultures, methods, and beliefs. It exists regardless of motivation or methodology in home education. This conference is a gathering for those who have an interest in engaging the important questions surrounding home education.
Professor, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
H.R.H., Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Bragança
President, King Manuel II Foundation
High School Director, Oak Meadow
Coordinator, Home Schooling Guadalajara, Veteran Homeschool Father & Speaker
Alexandre Magno Moreira
Deputy Head of Legal Department, Ministry of Education of Brazil
Author of I Never Went to School, Expert in Educational Alternatives
Founder and Director, Institute for Excellence in Writing
Veteran Homeschool Leader & Mother
Veteran Homeschooling Leader & Mother
Entrepreneur, Speaker, Author
Truly Rich Club / Catholic Filipino Academy
Bouwe van der Eems
Como Educar seus Filhos
Chandra Montgomery Nicol
Executive Director, Clonlara School
Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Apologia Educational Ministries
Home Education Researcher, Veteran Homeschool Mom, Author & Speaker
Chamber of Deputies, Brazil
Edésio Agostinho Reichert
Publisher & Entrepreneur
Édison Prado de Andrade
Faculty of Law, Padre Anchieta University Center, Jundiaí
President, TMA Homeschool
Chamber of Deputies, Brazil
Erwin Fabián García López
Advisor to the Secretary of Education of Bogotá
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Fabio Stopa Schebella
Education Researcher and Activist
La Educación Prohibida, Producer
Chairman of the Board, HSLDA of Canada
Veteran Home Education Leader
Advisor, Home Education Development
Jan De Groof
UNESCO Chair in Right to Education
Government Commissioner, Belgium
GHEC 2012 Chairman, President of Rohus
Homeschool Mom, Blogger & Speaker
Justice Tom Parker
Supreme Court Justice, Court of Alabama
Executive Director, Apologia Mission
East African Community of Homeschoolers, Steering Committee Member
Leendert van Oostrum
President, Pestalozzi Trust
Veteran Home Education Leader
Founder, Classical Conversations
Chamber of Deputies, Brazil
Will Skillman Fellow in Education, The Heritage Foundation
East African Community of Homeschoolers
Lorena Garcia Rosa Dias
Michael P. Farris
International Human Rights Expert, Constitutional Attorney
Director of Marketing, Apologia Educational Ministries
Escola sem Partido
Global Outreach Director, HSLDA
President, Canadian Centre for Home Education
Editorial Advisor, Editora Concreta, "Curso de Latim" Online
Board Member, SCAIHS
Ricardo Iêne Santos Dias
President, Associação Nacional de Educação Domiciliar
Rich and Barb Heki
Founders and Directors, Grandparents of Homeschoolers™
CEO, Classical Conversations
Attorney, Lobbyist, Home Educator in Spain
Founder and CEO, Australian Homeschool Christian Academy
Community Education Initiative: "Nosso Jardim"
Founder, Taiwan Homeschool Advocates
Timothy Brennan, Sr.
Bible Education Association Ministries
Timothy Mark Brennan, Jr.
Homeschool Graduate & Parent
Director of Development, Home School Foundation
Veteran Homeschool Leader & Mother
Click here for a list of presenters and their proposals in the GHEC 2016 research track.
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA Online Academy
Hip Homeschool Moms
The Heritage Foundation
Canadian Centre for Home Education
Journal of School Choice
Home School Foundation
Home Life Academy
Аналитический центр «Семейная политика.РФ» (Analytical Center for Family Policy, Russian Federation)
Asociace pro domácí vzdělávání (ADV), Czech Republic
Associação Nacional de Ensino Domiciliar, Brazil
Bulgarian Homeschooling Association
BzH—Bildung zu Hause Schweiz, Switzerland
Elimu Nyumbani, Kenya
Familiennetzwerk der Freilerner, Austria
«За права семьи» (For Family Rights, Russian Federation)
Foundation for Family and Demography, Russian Federation
Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands
Home Education Foundation, New Zealand
«Домашнее образование в Санкт-Петербурге» (Home Education in Saint-Petersburg Club)
Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada
Home School Legal Defense Association, United States
Hungarian Home Schooling Association
Korea Christian Homeschool Association
Klub Sinau, Indonesia
Социальная сеть «Учимся дома» (Learning at Home Social Network, Russian Federation)
Libres d'Apprendre et d'Instruire Autrement (LAIA), France
MTÜ Eesti Koduõppe Keskus (Estonian Centre for Home Education)
Mujen Chinese Christian Home Educators Association (in Taiwan)
Nordic Committee for Human Rights—NKMR
Otthonoktatás—Homeschooling in Hungary
Pestalozzi Trust, South Africa
Philadelphia Schule, Germany
Rohus, The Swedish Association for Home Education
Romanian Home Schooling Association
«Россия. Семья. Дети» (Russia. Family. Children. Association)
Schulunterricht zu Hause e.V., Germany
Stowarzyszenie Edukacji Domowej, Poland
Suomen kotiopettajat, Finland
Taiwan Homeschool Advocates
TEACH Asia, Singapore
TMA Homeschool, Philippines
Available at https://ghec.pixieset.com/ghec/
Videos of the Presentations
Available on YouTube
"The most beneficial aspect of GHEC is to be with leaders in home education. Of course, I know the value of the front-line providers, but it is good to be able to talk and network about the larger issues, such as legal status, politics and service providers."
"To get to know so [many] wonderful people, and learn from the international speakers. It really made my faith [in homeschooling] increase so much!"
"The strong support and encouragement you get! The professional way this conference is held is impressive [...] I am so thankful for the positive impact this conference has been to one of my relatives."
"The contact with people around the globe from all sorts of categories (parents, leaders, lawyers etc.) and the shared experience we had with all of them [was the most beneficial]."