Homeschooling Offers Hope
A lush tropical island nation in the heart of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic (DR) is home to 9.5 million Spanish-speaking inhabitants.
Most of the population lives in great poverty. Almost all young people attend public schools, many of which are overcrowded, understaffed, and in disrepair. The majority of students come from broken homes. Immorality is rife and negative peer pressure is intense. There are private schools, but for the majority of the population, the tuition is prohibitive.
|The Dominican Republic press is friendly toward homeschooling. Above, the Antonios are featured in a newspaper article.
In the midst of this darkness, a ray of hope is beginning to shine. American missionaries Dr. Gene and Rebecca Antonio and their eight children are spearheading a homeschool movement in the DR. The Antonios are the founders and directors of Red de Hogar Educadores Dominicanos (Dominican Home Educators Network), and they recently conducted the DR’s very first national conference on homeschooling. Nearly 100 people attended—an outstanding turnout, considering that most Dominicans are not even aware that homeschooling is an option.
Although homeschooling is not yet officially recognized by the DR government, it is not prohibited. As a result, the government leaves homeschoolers alone. The press is friendly and supportive of homeschooling. Two national newspapers and a women’s magazine have interviewed the Antonios and have run very positive articles about homeschooling; the family has also been interviewed on radio and television.
As a result of this high-profile publicity, parents are contacting the Antonios from all over the country. “People here are desperate to protect their children from the negative peer pressure that exists in many schools, but most still do not know homeschooling is an option. We are here to show them the way,” says Gene.
|The homeschool movement is expanding in the Dominican Republic. The Antonios recently led a forum in San Pedro de Marcoris.
The Antonios have been living in the Dominican Republic for five years and are fluent in Spanish. Prior to moving there, they spent seven years in India and a year in Hungary. The Antonios have always homeschooled their children, who range in age from 2 to 19.
“Homeschooling enables us to transfer solid biblical values to our children, and empowers us to bond with them and fortify their character in the midst of different cultures,” say Gene and Rebecca.
Many Dominican families are discovering the benefits of home education. Leo, Rosanna, and their four young children have a home-based pizza business and Rosanna also translates books into Spanish. New to homeschooling when they first met the Antonios, Leo and Rosanna were “feeling very lonely and discouraged at times because we did not know anyone else who was homeschooling, and many people, including friends at church, criticized us. After we met with Gene and Rebecca and their family, we were filled with fresh hope and enthusiasm for teaching our children at home.”
Eugenio and Margarita homeschool their three teenagers. Margarita gave up her career as a medical doctor in order to devote more time to raising their children. “The conference was a great encouragement to us and many others,” says Eugenio.
Pastor Sabino lives in the town of San Pedro, an hour and a half away from the bustling capital city of Santo Domingo. After attending the homeschool conference, Pastor Sabino invited the Antonios to lead a forum on homeschooling at his church. “We truly thank the Lord for bringing the Antonios to our country,” he says. “They are such a blessing . . . We need a revolution in family life in this country, and homeschooling is a great way to see that happen.”
”I have known Gene and Rebecca for 20 years and have seen great fruit in their ministry in the States and abroad,” says Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka. “I am excited about what they are doing in the Dominican Republic.”
“It’s important for U.S. homeschoolers to stand behind the Antonios’ efforts to bring the positive message of homeschooling to the Third World,” he adds. “There are many operating expenses in launching a whole new movement in a foreign country, and I encourage people to become co-workers in this ministry through prayer and financial support.”
The Antonios are offering a unique immersion opportunity for selected homeschool graduates to come to the Dominican Republic. For more information, visit www.homeschoolersinmissions.org or call 809-304-0520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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