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December 15, 2010

Good News for Homeschoolers

In August 2010 we reported on a proposed education bill in Russia that would have eliminated the option to homeschool. Hundreds of Russian families immediately joined together, along with homeschoolers from all over the world, and successfully petitioned the Russian government to continue its recognition of homeschooling. A new inter-regional public organization, “For Family Rights,” led the efforts in Russia.

When the proposed legislation was first introduced, homeschoolers and family advocacy groups in Russia were alarmed at the absence of language to protect the rights of parents. Further, any mention of homeschooling, called “family education” in Russia, had disappeared in the new law.

The Russian government has now officially released the text of the proposed education law for online discussion. Thanks to the efforts of homeschool advocates, the bill is significantly altered from its original text. The published bill has been “improved based on different proposals,” stated the Russian Ministry of Education.

Pavel Parfentiev, chairman of For Family Rights, explains that the most important changes include:

  1. Explicit inclusion of family education as an option for both pre-school and compulsory school education; and the
  2. Removal of obligatory pre-school education.

“Thank God and all who helped us,” Parfentiev states. “The return of family education to the proposed law is a certain victory.”

Though the text of the bill could still be changed in the Duma (Russian parliament), Parfentiev comments that Russian homeschoolers have reason to believe that homeschooling will remain in the new law. He shares about the Duma’s increasing awareness of homeschoolers. During parliamentary discussion in October, the chairman of the Committee on Education said the committee had received many letters from citizens on the topic of family education. It seems that the activity of homeschool families in response to the recent circumstances has served to impress Russia’s officials.

Family advocacy groups such as For Family Rights are still working diligently to monitor and amend several other points in the proposed legislation related to parental rights. These points include a requirement for homeschoolers to take annual assessments at the local schools, and the lack of parental rights to influence the religious and sexual education programs in schools. They are also working hard at the local level to decrease regulations for homeschoolers.

HSLDA offers its sincere thanks to those of you who wrote to the Russian Embassy in response to our call to action. Your advocacy on behalf of your fellow homeschoolers is a crucial element in our fight to stand for freedom overseas.