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August 23, 2010

Homeschooling Disappears in New Legislation on Education

The Russian government has proposed a new law on education that is slated for official approval by the close of 2010. While homeschooling is currently legal in the Russian Federation, this proposed law would remove home education as a legal option for families.

Russian homeschoolers prepared letters that were sent to the President of Russia, the Ministry of Education, the Duma (Russian Parliament), and the Public Chamber of Russia. They are now requesting help from their fellow homeschoolers and supporters of family rights around the world.

Requested Action

Russian homeschoolers ask that American families provide active support for the rights of Russian families by expressing their opinions on the proposed changes in Russian education law to the official representatives of Russia in the United States.

Please take the time to write an email or letter to Russian officials. Consider discussing any or all of the following points:

  1. Describe how homeschooling benefits your family and children.
  2. State that families should be afforded the basic human right to make decisions about the education of their children. Convey your desire that home education continue to be a legal option in Russia.
  3. Share how homeschooling produces academically and socially well-adjusted children who graduate to become productive citizens. Discuss how your children excel in the academic, extracurricular, and/or social arenas.

Please write to His Excellency Mr. Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, Ambassador of the Russian Federation. (The correct salutation is “Mr. Ambassador.”) Petitions should be sent to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the United States, where they will be forwarded to the Russian government via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Embassy of the Russian Federation in the United States
    Mailing address:
    2650 Wisconsin Ave., NW
    Washington, D.C. 20007
    Email: russianembassy@mindspring.com

Background

The current Russian education law explicitly provides families the right to educate their children at home. The law states, “[Parents] are to lay the foundations for the physical, moral, and intellectual development” of their children. Although Russian law makes education mandatory for 11 years, it is not required that children attend school. The compulsory education requirements can be met through “family education,” or home education. While homeschoolers in Russia must follow the federal standards of education, they may supplement that program with any curriculum or programs of their choosing. Estimated numbers of homeschooled students in Russia vary greatly; conservative estimates put the number around 100,000 children.

Homeschoolers and family advocacy groups in Russia have reviewed the proposed legislation and are alarmed at the absence of language that protects the right of parents to direct the education of their children. Any mention of “family education” as a separate, legitimate form of education has completely disappeared in the new law. Also, any mention of the unique position of the family to cultivate the learning and growth of children has been removed.

Earlier this year, the government-formed working group on the education project published a draft of the new law on the Russian Ministry of Education and Science website. Public discussion of the proposed law took place on a partner website. It was promised that the most active and constructive participants in this online discussion would have their considerations represented in the working group. While homeschoolers contributed by far the most to the online discussion, the government has failed to address homeschoolers’ concerns. Pavel Parfentiev, chairman of the Interregional Public Organization “For Family Rights” in Russia, submitted a package of proposals for the new education legislation that took into consideration the interests and rights of homeschooling families. He and his organization are still awaiting a reply from the Ministry of Education.

The stated purpose of the revised education law is to “ensure the comprehensive modernization” of the Russian education system. Yet the experience of the United States and many other nations, including Australia, Canada, France, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, demonstrates that homeschooling is a flourishing and increasingly popular trend. The persistent growth of home education even in countries where homeschoolers are persecuted, such as Germany and Sweden, shows plainly that this form of education is here to stay in the modern world. It is our hope that Russia will acknowledge the concerns of homeschoolers and revise the proposed legislation to protect the freedom of parents to choose the best form of education for their children and retain homeschooling as a legal educational option.

HSLDA is assisting Russian homeschoolers as they lobby their government to change the proposed legislation. Please keep these families in your prayers as they seek to protect their homeschool freedoms and consider advocating on their behalf by sending an email or letter to the Russian Embassy in the United States.