Over the course of five days, May 15–19, more than 1,000 Russian and 100 international homeschooling parents, along with policymakers, organization leaders, academic experts, and researchers from over 30 countries, met to exchange ideas about home education and the role of parents relative to governments in education. This hugely successful conference gave the Russian homeschool movement an unprecedented boost in public awareness and credibility with government officials.
Speakers at the conference—including representatives of the powerful Russian Orthodox Church and various other Russian denominations, and members of the Russian Congress—affirmed their strong support of homeschooling as a part of Russia’s educational future.
Russian sociologist Professor Dr. Anatoly Antonov talked about the state of education in the Soviet era. Having survived persecution under the Soviet regime, he explained how the government conditioned Russian families to be distrustful of their community, friends, and anyone other than government officials. Home was just a place to sleep, families were mere cogs in the machine, and children were like “suitcases” dropped off at state schools and then returned. Education was solely the province of the communist state. With evident emotion, Dr. Antonov told GHEC attendees from all over the world he knew there was work to be done, but the emergence of homeschooling was evidence that Russian society was recovering from the deep scars of communism.
College of Europe Professor Dr. Jan De Groof emphasized the need for alternatives to public education. Giving parents educational choice is not only required under international law treaties on education and human rights, it is also an important ingredient for a functioning democracy.
Author, scholar, and family advocate Dr. Allan Carlson explained in his talk, “Why Homeschooling Is Good for Society,” how the family is a foundational institution in a healthy democracy and why homeschooling must be respected in educational policymaking.
Although American media often portray Russia as the most serious threat facing our country, and Russians as anti-freedom, this was not seen. Many Americans are not familiar with Russian history, the chaos that ensued after the fall of the Soviet Union, or the societal wounds from 75 years of communist rule.
A country that permits homeschooling demonstrates respect for its citizens, for educational freedom, and for the institution of the family. Recognizing the rights of families to decide how their children are educated is an important barometer of freedom and a significant function of self-governance—which is foundational to freedom and democracy. These are the ideas, after all, on which the United States has built our republic. It is encouraging to see a country like Russia embracing this freedom.
GHEC 2018 is a leadership conference for policymakers, researchers, movement leaders, and parents interested in home education.
The third global conference will continue to engage the important questions surrounding home education and explore how this innovative and rapidly growing form of education is not only a reasonable response to pervasive difficulties in traditional methods of schooling, but a right that is foundational to our common experience in the 21st century.
The GHEC 2018 is an event that brings together those with an interest in freedom of education, and home education in particular, to provide a stimulating environment to gather the best cross-section of research and to cultivate a commitment to parent-directed education. Home education highlights the most crucial factors in the freedom-of-education discussion. Who is responsible for education? What role do parents play in the education of their children? To what extent is the state responsible for education of children?
"You CAN Homeschool!"
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 the 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 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 shows plainly that home education is benefiting children and families in countries all around the world. In 2016, GHEC in Rio established the Rio Principles, affirming just this: families around the world have a right to homeschool.
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 2018 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 2018 will provide a forum to cultivate awareness about home education, its legal framework, social and academic research, and practical experience around the world. The GHEC 2018 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. 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 US, 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. GHEC 2018 is a gathering for those who have an interest in engaging the important questions surrounding home education.
Jan De Groof
Alan Rick Miranda
Karin van Oostrum
Bouwe van der Eems
Joy Tan-Chi Mendoza
Chandra Montgomery Nicol
Barb & Rich Heki
Daniil & Kseniya Chersunov
Roger & Jan Smith
Ioanna Founta Kontou
Erwin Fabian Garcia Lopez
Noémi Cecília Eggendorfer
José Carlos Gómez García
Gita Mateja de Laat
Vania Maria de Carvalho e Silva
Click here to see the full list of presenters and their proposals in the GHEC 2018 Research Track.
Classical Education Publishing
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
Click here for pictures from the Global Home Education Conference 2018.
"GHEC 2018 was a sign that homeschooling is more than just an exception, but a rising international norm."
"At first I had a doubt about my decision to go to this conference. My friends were trying to say that I will not hear anything new. But what I've heard and experienced, was overwhelming. Instead of being a lonely and discouraged homeschooling mom, I am now encouraged and filled with joy, that I am one of a big homeschooling family. Instead of a citizen of a country where we cannot achieve a right to homeschool, I now feel that everything is possible."
"GHEC 2018 seemed to rally many individuals and groups, and offered information, connection, and support to those who were new to homeschooling."
"It was amazing to see people from so many countries. I hope more countries will join in, and see the value of educating children at home."
"Unmeasurable. It enlightens, opens minds, encourages, supports and assists the growth of homeschooling worldwide."
"I loved conversing with people from other countries about homeschooling, both the leaders and the moms just getting started."
"I was inspired not to give up, keep working on my own heart, and believe that it will pay off"