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December 20, 2011

Homeschool Experiment Needed in Slovakia

A bill to grant homeschoolers in Slovakia more freedom was dropped by the Slovak Parliament on December 9 in light of elections coming in March. With homeschooling only permitted legally since 2008, homeschoolers hope to influence the minister of education to start a “homeschool experiment,” similar to that tried in the Czech Republic. The experiment would lessen restrictions for parents in Slovakia for several years and allow families to homeschool through the 8th grade, giving the government an opportunity to see how it works.

Jana Zitnanska, a member of parliament, introduced proposed changes to the education law in a mid-November press conference. The fledging group of homeschoolers who attended the event told HSLDA that the conference received positive media attention. Current regulations in Slovakia only permit homeschooling for grades 1 to 4 if a parent holds a master’s degree and if the parents have received special teacher training. Homeschoolers hope the experiment would allow parents who have graduated high school to teach grades 1 through 4, and those who hold a bachelor’s degree to teach grades 5 through 8. By comparison, 41 states in the U.S. do not require parents to meet any specific teacher qualifications; the remaining nine require only a high school diploma or GED.

In addition to meeting teacher qualifications, families must apply for permission to homeschool. Homeschooled children must be taught the same curriculum as in public schools and are tested every six months. Today an estimated 50 children are homeschooled in Slovakia, which has a population of about 5 million. Some families are underground since choosing to homeschool their children beyond grade 4, while other families are considering leaving Slovakia for the Czech Republic, or other European countries, where there is greater homeschool freedom.

Homeschoolers in Slovakia appreciate the support they receive from fellow homeschoolers around the world and have explicitly asked for prayers as they determine how best to move forward as they meet government officials.