Homeschooling Education in Jamaica and the Wider World
One would think that with compulsory education laws now in many jurisdictions the parent who decides to home school must be prepared to deliver very precise and predictable government standards within the domestic classroom. Surprise! Surprise! Home schooling laws are quite lenient in a number of countries. But forget about home schooling in Brazil, Germany, and Spain; yup, illegal in all three.
According to Wikipedia:
Homeschooling is legal in many countries. Countries with the most prevalent home education movements include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Some countries have highly regulated home education programs as an extension of the compulsory school system; others, such as Germany and Brazil, have outlawed it entirely. In other countries, while not restricted by law, homeschooling is not socially acceptable or considered undesirable and is virtually non-existent.
In the UK, the Education Act law in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and in Scotland stipulates that while parents are legally required to educate their children, no parent is compelled to do so by sending their child to school. Parents are required by law to ensure that the child receives full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude. You do not need to be a qualified teacher to educate a child at home, and, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland do not have to apply for permission from a school or Local Educational Authority (LEA) to educate a child at home. Scotland has a slightly different approach. According to the Education (Scotland) Act 1980:
"Where a child of school age who has attended a public school on one or more occasions fails without reasonable excuse to attend regularly at the said school, then, unless the education authority have consented to the withdrawal of the child from the school (which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld), his parent shall be guilty of an offence against this section."
Permission must be granted by the Local Educational Authority (LEA) in order for a parent to withdraw a child from a school and proceed with home schooling.
In all other ways the two countries are similar. The parent or tutor is not bound to a particular curriculum. The rule is that a child must be educated 'suitable' to the child's needs. The landmark case at Worcester Crown Court in 1981 (Harrison & Harrison v Stevenson) saw a judge defining a ‘suitable education’ as one which could: "to prepare the children for life in modern civilised society, and to enable them to achieve their full potential."
Home schooling parents need not demonstrate to the UK authorities that they plan to deliver any specific or specialised type of education, and are not held accountable for physical standards of schooling premises. On the academic side the UK government does not insist on specific teaching or subject qualifications. The Badman Review in 2009 stated that 20,000 home educated children in England were registered with local authorities.
I am very happy with the home schooling situation in the USA. We need to understand that public schools were raised up in the United States during the course of the 19th century mainly to educate orphans. But society latched on to the idea until Massachusetts became the first state to issue a compulsory education law in 1789.
Wikipedia reports that “It was common for literate parents to use books dedicated to educating children such as Fireside Education, Griswold, 1828, Warren Burton's Helps to Education in the Homes of Our Country,1863, and the popular McGuffey Readers, sometimes bolstered by local or itinerant teachers, as means and opportunity allowed.”
Various Christian denominations have also established private institutions.
Wikipedia asserts “Statistically, the typical American homeschooling parents are married, home school their children primarily for religious or moral reasons, and are almost twice as likely to be Evangelical than the national average. They average three or more children, and typically the mother stays home to care for them.”
Research in USA shows that home schooled students outperform their peers in standardized tests.
But what has me excited is the social research.
Social research on Home Schooling in USA
Seminal studies in the 1970s by Raymond S. and Dorothy N. Moore concluded that "where possible, children should be withheld from formal schooling until at least ages eight to ten."
Their reason was that children, "are not mature enough for formal school programs until their senses, coordination, neurological development and cognition are ready." They saw formal schooling producing a tragic sequence of uncertainty, puzzlement, frustration, hyperactivity, failure which quite naturally flows from the four previous experiences, and finally, delinquency.
I wonder why this kind of information is not promoted by politicians in the public domain. Perhaps this would mean promoting responsible family life which is not a very fashionable topic to get votes. Building new schools for the offspring of irresponsible sexual behaviour would no doubt draw votes.
In 2003, the National Home Education Research Institute surveyed of 7,300 U.S. adults who had been homeschooled. Their findings reveal that home schooled graduates are more active and involved in their communities; more involved in civic affairs and vote in much higher percentages than their peers; and are happier with life.
Home Schooling in Jamaica
Mention home schooling in Jamaica and the name Barbara Blake Hannah must come up. Her home schooled son was appointed technology consultant to the government at age 13. She has finally written a book on her pioneering adventure in home schooling.
The Jamaica Observer reviews says:
After years of answering questions about her home-schooling techniques, Blake Hannah has published an account of her experiences as a guide book for parents interested in following her example. Home - The First School: A Homeschooling Guide to Early Childhood Education is a 160-page book with chapters on the Montessori method, the computer as teacher, daily lesson plans, unschooling vs home-schooling, college and the positive benefits of breastfeeding in raising bright children.
And a January 2009 article in the same daily tabloid featured one Portmore family which has embarked on home schooling with success. The reporter, Luke Douglas wrote:
“…The education ministry is aware that homeschooling is taking place in Jamaica, but does little monitoring of it at present. Assistant chief education officer in the ministry Winston Forrest said while there was no policy on homeschooling in Jamaica, the government's policy is that all children must receive an education. He also noted that the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Child Care and Protection Act, and other related laws, all speak of children's right to education but that there is nothing against educating the child at home.”