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December 2, 2011

French Homeschoolers Resist Political Agenda

Homeschool organizations in France continue to resist the agenda of French legislators to modify the education law. In spring 2011, legislators introduced four educations bills into the French Parliament to reduce the compulsory education age from 6 to 3 years of age. One of the bills even proposed to make “compulsory education”—the current wording in the law—into “compulsory schooling.” Thankfully, this bill did not gain enough support and was removed from parliamentary discussion for the time being. In addition, the three other bills were abandoned in October 2011 due to economic reasons.

The recent legislative threats caused French homeschoolers to mobilize and actively resist these bills. The three national homeschool organizations in France, LED’A (Les Enfants d’Abord), LAIA (Libre d’Apprendre et d’Instruire Autrement), and CISE (Choisir d’Instruire Son Enfant), contacted their collective member families to petition their members of parliament (MPs) and senators. In 2007, the three national organizations formed a group called CPLI, the “Collectif Pour la Liberté d’Instruction,” which means, Organization for Freedom in Education. The purpose of the group is political action. A LED’A representative explains, “We used CPLI especially in 2007 to fight changes in the law, and we are thinking of using it again in the near future as political pressure is again increasing.”

At the September 2011 international homeschool conference hosted by Asociación por la Libre Educación in Spain, French homeschooler Agnès Ohlenbusch presented a workshop on the history of homeschooling in France. The current legal framework for homeschooling changed drastically in 1998. The recent bills in parliament and other official interpretations of the law would further increase the regulations that govern homeschoolers: “We know that with the French presidential elections in spring 2012, the topics about school and instruction and education will be main topics in the next several months,” notes Ohlenbusch. “So we believe that we have to be very careful of what might happen.”