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March 28, 2017

China’s New One-School Policy

Enough Chinese parents have turned to homeschooling to make the movement a concern for the national government.

Mike Donnelly MIKE DONNELLY HSLDA Director of Global Outreach

In February, the General Office of the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China issued its first statement officially condemning homeschooling. It also warned parents that the practice is forbidden.

The statement follows a related decision by the Communist Party's Central Committee in December, when it mandated that education must include ideological teachings on socialism, and that these teachings must be incorporated in the national curriculum. As reported in the South China Morning Post, this ideology must "cover all schools and those receiving education,” leaving no room for homeschoolers to escape the socialist worldview.

China's 1986 Compulsory Education Law mandates nine years of education for all children at registered schools. But for many years, official oversight and legal loopholes have allowed parents to opt out of the public school system.

This leniency has apparently ended.

The government’s February policy states that "[Students] should not be allowed to study at home to replace the national unified implementation of compulsory education." New restrictions requiring province-level approval for only certain excuses, such as health reasons, will now be imposed on any parents who want to homeschool.

“This is the first time the Chinese government has come out in public to speak against home education,” a local homeschool leader told HSLDA.

A Step Backward for Educational Freedom

The 21st Century Education Research website puts China’s homeschooling numbers at 20,000 children—a tiny group within the country’s population of over 1.3 billion.

But the Chinese regime increasingly seems to view these children as a threat, since they are not being indoctrinated in the state schools six-plus days a week. The research study noted that nearly 54% of homeschooling parents in China state that they disagree with the education philosophy taught in the public schools, and want to teach from a different perspective.

This new and more aggressive policy has apparently been in the works for some months, as local homeschoolers have witnessed increasing hostility.

Homeschool children already face the disadvantage of not being permitted to take the National College Entrance Examination. Without passing this exam it is very difficult for Chinese citizens to gain access to employment. Some have taken to studying abroad or transferring to a foreign university which may be the only option left for homeschool students looking at higher education.

Saying “No” To China’s Homeschooling Ban

It remains to be seen whether or not officials will actually enforce a crackdown on home education. In the meantime, parents and educators remain understandably fearful of this new, anti-homeschooling rhetoric from the Chinese government.

China’s renewed repression of Christian churches and other religious groups has been an ongoing source of concern for human rights advocates. These actions show that the regime is more than capable of taking brutal measures to prevent home education from flourishing.

China has signed numerous international human rights treaties that affirm the rights of parents and children to access home education. Homeschooling is a fundamental right of all families, regardless of the country they live in. HSLDA will be working to encourage the Chinese government to respect these rights, including the rights of parents to homeschool their children, as documented in the Rio Principles and Berlin Declaration.

HSLDA remains committed to standing by and fighting for the human rights of its courageous families in China and in other places like Germany, Cuba and Sweden which do not respect these rights.

Other Resources

HSLDA’s China homepage
HSLDA’s Germany homepage
HSLDA’s Sweden homepage