The National Education Policy 2023-2027 put forward by the Minister of Education is terribly flawed. It may or may not be unlawful/unconstitutional, but it is definitely immoral & dangerous.
These are the relevant portions from the Newsday article (https://newsday.co.tt/2023/09/26/education-ministry-revamps-homeschooling-policy/ ) discussing the Education Policy:
“The Ministry of Education’s National Education Policy 2023-2027 requires that parents or guardians apply to the ministry for permission to homeschool a child of compulsory school age. Since there was no such policy previously, parents could choose whether to inform the ministry that they were homeschooling their children. Now, parents and guardians are not only expected to apply for approval annually but if the application is not approved, the Education Minister will facilitate placement in a public school or the parents can register the child at a private school registered with the ministry. If requested by the ministry, the parent is expected to submit an end-of-year report. They are also expected to submit to virtual or in-person visits by ministry officials to ensure the care and protection of the child and, if the child is on probation, observe classroom instruction. If a child is evaluated using ministry-approved standardised assessments and found to be functioning at a lower level than expected, the Chief Education Officer (CEO) could advise the parent on an adapted curriculum and the child be placed on probation for one term.”
“The Ministry of Education’s National Education Policy 2023-2027 requires that parents or guardians apply to the ministry for permission to homeschool a child of compulsory school age."
Parents or guardians have to apply for permission to homeschool?
The person with the power to grant permission is the person with control or ownership. Who gave the government control or ownership of the child that you created, carried, gave birth to, fed and raised?
And that leads to the next question: what else do you need to get the government’s permission to do when deciding what’s best for your child?
Today, it’s whether you can homeschool or not, but what will it be tomorrow? How far will they try to extend this power? At a first glance, issues like these might seem minor. But if you zoom out and see the ripple effects that could come from allowing the government to encroach on your freedom, you realize the importance of standing up now. Before it's too late!
If they want to control where and how your child is educated, will they then want to control where he lives, what he eats, what medication he takes, what profession he chooses?
Do you want the government to have absolute power & control of your children?
Do you want them to have absolute power & control over you?
So where must the line be drawn?
The extent of the government’s control is supposed to be for the creation and maintenance of law & order in society. But this move has nothing to do with law & order whatsoever. It’s not an overstatement to say that this is a step towards totalitarianism (a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state). And we cannot allow this to happen.
But even without looking to the future, the issue of a child’s education is one of the most important that you will ever make. In terms of importance, it comes only after his faith and his health. And you can argue that faith and health are actually subsets of education, which would make education the most important aspect of a child’s life.
Education is not just about passing exams. Arguably that’s not even part of education. Passing exams is a precursor to getting a job, but that’s not what education is about. Education is about uncovering your talents, exploring curiosity, developing the universal habits & traits that lead to a productive & successful life, understanding universal principles, learning how to learn, developing a commitment to lifelong learning, finding creative ways to resolve problems, thinking critically, articulating thoughts orally and in writing, etc.
You don’t NEED an exam for any of this. And there is no timeline by which this ought to take place. It can take a couple years or a couple decades. Who’s to say when it should be complete? And that in itself is a flawed question because education is never complete. We’re never supposed to stop learning but the traditional system of ‘final exams’ promotes the mindset that education has an end date.
In any event, this is not the place to highlight all the flaws of the traditional system and the essence of true education. The only thing that needs to be understood here is that education is intrinsic to a person’s lifestyle. A child’s education, and his lifestyle, should be determined by the people who have control of him and who, for millions of years, have been considered to have his best interest at heart more than anyone else- his parents!
If parents determine that they want to give a certain education and accordingly a certain lifestyle to their children (because they believe it will be far more beneficial than another education), that should be their choice. And that is not something they should need permission for.
The proposed alternative is that the government become the ones with the authority to make the major decisions for children’s education and lifestyle, and parents would just be there to make small decisions and provide food & housing.
Again, it’s not an overstatement to say this is an attack on your freedom and your God-given right (and responsibility) to raise your children in the best way you know.
The overlap between parenting and government should be limited to permitting government intervention only in cases of abuse & negligence. Governments should protect children when their parents are causing them genuine harm. But taking it upon themselves to decide the best way for your child to be educated is an overreach by the government.
If we do not completely oppose this move, you can imagine that a time will come when an argument is made that homeschooling your children in a manner that is not approved by the government, is tantamount to negligence. And would they then have the authority to take your child from you?
The more power the government tries to give to themselves, the less freedom the people have. We have to pre-empt this. But if history is any indicator, we won’t stand up until they take it too far.
“Now, parents and guardians are not only expected to apply for approval annually but if the application is not approved, the Education Minister will facilitate placement in a public school or the parents can register the child at a private school registered with the ministry.”
The first problem here obviously is on what criteria would they determine that your application should not be approved. I’m sure the regulations will surely provide for that. But the overall issue will still remain though...
Why does the government believe that they are better suited than you to decide what’s in your child’s best interest?
And if they decide that homeschooling is not best for your child, why do they have the right to force you to send your child to a public school for 8 hours a day? Or force you to expend thousands of dollars annually to send him to a private school?
Now they have moved from controlling how your child must be educated, to also controlling where he must spend his days and how you must spend your money.
Is this an acceptable state of affairs to you?
For the purpose of this article, I’m not discussing the merits of public or private school. In fact, it’s good that we have public schools, private schools, and homeschooling. It gives parents options. You’re supposed to have the freedom to decide what’s best for you, given your unique situation. But what the government is proposing here is that parents are stripped of that freedom.
And if the government mandates that you put your child in a public school because they are not satisfied with the homeschool education that you are providing, what are you going to do if
the school curriculum starts teaching things that you disagree with?
Are you aware that in some public schools in the United States of America they are teaching young children how to give blowjobs, teaching them how to have anal sex, encouraging them to pretend to be the opposite gender without telling their parents, bringing drag queens dressed inappropriately to dance and read in front of the children, etc?
Suppose you are against that. LIKE ANY RIGHT-MINDED HUMAN BEING. And you want to homeschool your child to ensure that his education is based on the values and principles that you believe in. But the government decides that your child’s education does not incorporate enough of the “diversity, inclusion or cultural” aspects that the government believes should be part of his education.
Or perhaps you are giving your child a balanced education that includes studying religion, culinary arts, learning languages, etc. so his mathematics education is not at the same level of children doing mathematics 10x as much as him?
Now your child has to go to school and become more one-dimensional instead of being more balanced, and he has to learn things that you consider harmful to his overall wellbeing. Not to mention, he will have to move from spending so much quality time with his family, to seeing you at the end of his day when he is tired, has to do homework and then has to prepare for the next day of school. What if you don’t want to raise your child like that?
Are you prepared to let the government tell you how to raise your child? Are you prepared to see them erode your values from your child? Are you prepared for them to tell you how much time you can spend with your child? Are you prepared for them to teach your child what they think he/she should learn?
If you’re not prepared for that, then how can you allow them to determine if you have ‘approval’ to homeschool? How can you let them tell you that you have to send YOUR child to a public school or private school registered with them?
If requested by the ministry, the parent is expected to submit an end-of-year report. They are also expected to submit to virtual or in-person visits by ministry officials to ensure the care and protection of the child and, if the child is on probation, observe classroom instruction.
If a child is evaluated using ministry-approved standardised assessments and found to be functioning at a lower level than expected, the Chief Education Officer (CEO) could advise the parent on an adapted curriculum and the child be placed on probation for one term.”
‘Expected to submit an end-of-year report?’ Why do they believe that your child’s education must be tailored to their specifications? Why are they keeping tabs on you and your child? Are you on lockdown? Are you not free?
‘Expected to submit to virtual or in-person visits by ministry officials?’ So now you are being forced to allow these persons into your home? This is now infringing even more on your liberty & privacy. Why are you being treated like a criminal who has restrictions on his freedom? You should not be forced to meet with anyone online or even worse, allow them into your home. And then for them to assess your child based on a standard that you might not accept and might not be adhering to?
I will leave the topic of standardised assessments to be discussed at length by educational experts. But my two cents is that standardised assessments are overrated, traumatic for some, and have very little bearing on true education.
Assuming that if the adapted curriculum and probationary period does not yield their desired results, the next step would seemingly be removal from homeschooling. This means that if the testing authority wanted, they could design a difficult standardised assessment and if your child failed, they would have the freedom to do with your child what they pleased.
Some might say that nobody would intentionally make a difficult assessment just to remove a child from homeschooling. The issue is not whether you think somebody would do it or not; it’s that somebody has the power to do it.
For those who think this is to safeguard children, understand that if a parent is struggling with homeschooling, they could seek assistance from experts, they could place their child in public school or any number of options which they are free to utilize in the best interest of their child. Why does the government feel the need to take away parents’ freedom to make decisions for their children?
This policy is unacceptable.
I have not (yet) been blessed with children, but when I have children (God’s willing), I already know that they will be homeschooled. And our system of homeschooling will not resemble traditional schooling in any way and it will not involve standardized testing.
And, in my opinion, few people have more credibility than me and my wife when it comes to this topic. My wife attended a ‘prestige’ school where she regularly placed top 3 in exams (but for a near-fatal accident she would have likely received an A-level scholarship), graduated university with bachelors in education summa cum laude, she has over a decade of experience in education, she ran her own online school which provided extra lessons for K-12 students, and now she runs an online homeschool.
My credentials are not as impressive, but I attended a ‘prestige’ school as well, received an A-level CAPE scholarship, graduated my bachelors of law degree with upper second class, and then got my Legal Education Certificate.
The point I'm making is that we are two people who excelled in the traditional system. So when we say it’s broken, it’s not because we couldn’t handle it. It’s because we went through it successfully and we know that there are much better ways to educate. There are much better ways to truly build children and prepare them for life.
God’s willing, my children will have a holistic education: Islamic learning, Maths & English, swimming, martial arts, sports, play, exercise, etc.
That’s how the average day would look.
And the end result, God’s willing, is that my children will grow up with the tools to live successful & fulfilling lives, they won’t just have a piece of paper saying they passed exams, they will actually know how to learn and succeed in life.
That doesn’t sound like something that would get government permission because it’s not in line with traditional education.
But the government doesn’t know what’s best for me, they don’t understand the life I'm trying to live and the way that I want to raise my family.
And if God blesses me with a family, it’s my job to decide what’s best for them; not the government.
It’s not the government’s family; it’s mine.
So ask yourself that same question:
Is it your child or the government’s child?
And if you say it’s your child, then what are you going to do to make sure it stays that way? Are you going to fight for your freedom or are you going to surrender?