Homeschooling entities contest proposed regulation

Families and pro-homeschooling associations question the proposal that could regulate the sport in the country

Items present in PL 3179/2012, which may soon be voted on in the Chamber, are contested by entities that act in defense of homeschooling| Photo: Freepik

After more than two decades of bills that propose the regulation of homeschooling in Brazil, there are expectations that the PL 3179/2012 – a proposal currently with greater chances of going to the plenary in the Chamber of Deputies – will be voted on by parliamentarians still in this year. An eventual approval in the Chamber and also in the Senate would make the approximately 17,000 families – according to estimates by the Ministry of Education – that keep their children under home education, to stop being informal.

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Despite this, the text that is about to be voted on has been the target of challenges by educating families and representative associations. Items such as mandatory higher education for at least one of the parents and the loss of the right to home education for students who fail in two consecutive years or three non-consecutive years in the annual assessment provided for in the text have been questioned.

On the other hand, there are also families and entities that defend homeschooling that, even evaluating the wording of PL 3179/2012 as rigorous, see in the proposal the only possible way to have a regulation for the modality.

What does the replacement text say?

Although there is no law prohibiting homeschooling and the decision of the Supreme Court (STF) of 2018 considers that the modality is not unconstitutional, homeschooling is not included in Law 9,394/1996 – known as the Law of Guidelines and Bases of Education National (LDB). In addition, the current wording of the Statute of Children and Adolescents (ECA), in its article 55, says that “Parents or guardians have the obligation to enroll their children or pupils in the regular school system”. For parents and guardians, informality means being at the mercy of complaints for the crime of intellectual abandonment, provided for in article 246 of the Penal Code.

In May this year, Deputy Luisa Canziani (PTB-PR), rapporteur of PL 3179, presented the text to replace the original proposal. The wording proposes to change the LDB by adding the provision to basic home education “by free choice and under the responsibility of the parents or legal guardians of the students”; and also add a device to the ECA.

The criteria for keeping students in homeschooling, however, are varied. See below the main points of the proposal:

  • Mandatory enrollment of the student in a school (public or private);
  • Annual student learning assessment to be carried out by the school in which they are enrolled;
  • Submission of bimonthly reports to the school by parents or other legal guardians;
  • Registration, made by the school, of the frequency of the child or adolescent to activities carried out in home education;
  • Proof of higher education education by at least one of the student’s parents or legal guardians;
  • Compliance with the curricular contents referring to the school year corresponding to the student’s age, in accordance with the Common National Curriculum Base, with the inclusion of pertinent additional curricular contents admitted;
  • Semiannual assessment of the progress of students with disabilities or pervasive developmental disorder by a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary team from the school system in which they are enrolled;
  • Provision of educational inspection, by the competent body of the education system; and inspection, by the Guardianship Council, in the environment where the child or adolescent is receiving home education;
  • Loss of the right to homeschooling for students: who fail in two consecutive years or three non-consecutive years in the scheduled annual assessment; whose families do not comply with the guidelines of the National Education Council (CNE) and local regulations – both to be defined – on the modality; or when the direct legal guardian is convicted or
    is serving a sentence for crimes provided for in the substitute text.

What do homeschooling associations and member families say

While part of the entities that work in defense of home education and groups of educating families assess that the approval of a regulation, although not ideal, is currently the most important to remove thousands of families from informality, another portion assesses that the text is inadequate and can cause even more damage to families that adhere to the modality.

For Diego do Nascimento Vieira, president of the Association of Educating Families of Santa Catarina (Afesc), Congresswoman Luisa Canziani’s text does not bring freedom or legal security to educating families. “The PL is very restrictive and is not in line with the reality of Brazilian families. Only the requirement of higher education from parents would make it impossible for most of them to do homeschooling”, he says. He says that, if the bill is approved as it is, a significant part of the families associated with Afesc would remain in an irregular condition.

In a survey prepared by the National Association of Home Education (Aned) between June 26 and July 2, 2021, which had the participation of 2,888 fathers, mothers and legal guardians who are adept of homeschooling, 75% said it is preferable to stay longer without a regulation than having a very restrictive regulation; 25% said they would prefer a law, even if not the ideal one, than continuing informally. In the same survey, 89% said they were against the obligation of higher education, and 69% said they were against the compulsory cancellation of the exercise of home education in case of failure for two consecutive years.

In a document in which it presents suggestions for changes to the replacement text, Aned points out the changes it deems necessary so that “educational freedom is recognized and exercised in a fair, equal and less bureaucratic manner”.

Some examples of the changes pointed out by the entity are:

  • Withdrawal of proof, by parents, of higher education as a condition for the exercise of home education;
  • Removal of compulsory loss of the right to the modality from consecutive failure;
  • Replacement of the word “school” by “institution”, allowing students to be linked to certifying entities rather than exclusively in schools;
  • Changing the frequency of activity reports from bimonthly to semiannual;
  • Withdrawal of the provision of educational inspection by the competent body of the education and inspection system, maintaining inspection by the Guardianship Council;
  • Removal of the provision of subsequent general guidelines to be edited by the CNE and by the local education networks, the regulatory law in question being sufficient.

According to Carlos Vinícius Reis, director of institutional relations at Aned, the above claims were raised from the demands of educating families in a process of seeking improvements.

“We have no expectations of an ideal bill. But there cannot be, for example, discriminatory and unequal treatment between school and home students, as if those in the second group had fewer rights”, says Reis.

As for the requirement of higher education – which is the main point of disagreement in the text – he points out that this would keep a large number of families irregular and would only serve an elite. “Only 17.4% of the Brazilian population has a university degree, according to the IBGE. This training requirement occurs while not all classroom teachers in Brazil currently have such a degree. In Bahia, 40% of parents who practice home education do not have higher education and would remain informal even with the proposal’s approval”, says the representative of Aned.

The president of Afesc, on the other hand, argues that the automatic cancellation of the exercise of home education in the specific cases of failure already mentioned, as well as the way foreseen for the evaluations in schools, are also part of the main reasons for dissatisfaction of a portion of the member families. “As for the automatic cancellation, we are sure that the educating families have provided a quality education and we are also not against evaluation by the government. But if the failure were to happen, especially for children with special needs, this cancellation would be unfair”, points out Vieira. “Today, if a student fails two years in a row, he is not required to change schools, and the school does not suffer any penalty. This denotes a prejudice against the educating families”, he reinforces.

Home Education Association of DF rebuts criticism from Aned and other entities

Contrary to the associations and families against the approval of the replacement text of PL 3179/2012 in the current form, there are entities such as the Association of Educating Families of the Federal District (Fameduc-DF).

According to Jônatas Dias Lima, president of the association, although the wording of the proposal establishes strict rules, remaining for a longer period without a regulatory law is “the worst of all worlds” for everyone involved. Families that are already adepts, who would stay longer as ECA and LDB offenders; those who want to join, who will continue without the legal certainty to do so; and public agents, who will remain unable to measure the quality of education these children receive and whether their rights are being preserved.

“The report solves the main thing, which is to change the LDB and the ECA so that the modality is included in Brazilian legislation. At the same time, it includes provisions that guarantee the necessary protection for socially vulnerable children and adolescents who could become victims of true cases of intellectual abandonment”, says Lima.

For him, a more flexible text would hardly find the consensus of the majority of deputies in order to make the proposal’s approval possible. “I believe that Deputy Canziani’s report is, politically, the most viable option, as it is the one with the best conditions to obtain adhesion not only among conservative and right-wing parliamentarians, but also from the center and center-left. The text, as Aned wants it, we know it doesn’t pass; it is unfeasible and ends up hindering the possibility of the existence of a law”, he emphasizes.