*Spanish translation available here
Brazil is on the cusp of giving its children access to the kind of education that has proven immensely successful in other parts of the world.
Sadly, a barrage of politically motivated reports is attempting to prevent this major step forward from happening.
Taking their cue from a misleading and erroneous article published by the United Kingdom-based group openDemocracy, several Portuguese-language media outlets have published articles targeting homeschooling—apparently in an attempt to derail legislation that would legalize the educational method in Brazil.
Research shows that homeschooling serves children well. Vanderbilt University’s Dr. Joseph Murphy surveyed all the research on homeschooling and concluded that this educational approach produces individuals who are at least as well-educated and socialized as their counterparts who attend public or private school. Some research shows even better results.
Dr. Lindsey Burke’s review shows most peer-reviewed studies point to superior academic outcomes for homeschooling. As far as socialization goes, Dr. Brian Ray’s surveys of homeschool grads indicate homeschoolers integrate into society as productive and engaged, while the University of Arkansas’s Dr. Albert Cheng suggests that homeschool graduates are more politically tolerant than non-homeschooled students.
Brazil has been struggling with major educational challenges. According to a report from Todos Pela Educacao in 2021, Brazil has had a 20 percent rise in the number of children ages 6 and 7 who cannot read and write. According to a June 2022 article from The Washington Post, “The National Youth Council found [. . .] more than five million 6-year-olds to 17-year-olds across the country were out of school or unable to access education.”
It is a desire to help the children of Brazil that motivates homeschool advocates in that nation, and these facts show that legalizing homeschooling could truly benefit the children.
Despite this, openDemocracy attempts to discredit groups who are working to empower Brazilian parents so they can provide the best education possible for their children—organizations such as Brazil’s National Association for Home Education and Global Home Education Exchange (GHEX).
openDemocracy also attacks Alexandre Moreira, a founding member of GHEX and a brilliant Brazilian lawyer who served the national government as secretary for the Global Protection of Human Rights. Moreira is a father who believes that families need support and encouragement, and that they should have meaningful choices in how to education their children.
As for GHEX, it is a global network including a wide diversity of individuals from every continent who support home education. GHEX asserts that home education as a human right regardless of a family’s method or methodology. The global conferences organized by GHEX are open to and attended by parents from a wide range of backgrounds and permits all to speak freely without any support of any political ideology.
Compare this to the openDemocracy article, which characterizes homeschool parents as religious zealots who care more about advancing their own agendas than providing for their children. These are hateful stereotypes based on fear.
In fact, in the United States alone homeschooling has tripled from 2.6 million students in 2016 to 11 percent of households. And Census Bureau data show that the movement has grown more diverse, increasing across all demographics—from ethnicity to religion to economic status.
Today, the Brazilian Congress has an opportunity to exercise international leadership on an issue of educational choice. We hope that instead of listening to the misleading voice of fear-mongering critics, that legislators listen to their constituents.
By enacting legislation to recognize homeschooling in its federal law, Brazil will truly be advancing democracy.