China’s communist government over the years has restricted religious practice, political speech, assembly and other practices regarded as rights in the West.
Now it is cracking down on homeschooling, which had been surging in the repressive nation because so many parents object to the political indoctrination in government-controlled education.
The news comes from the Home School Legal Defense Association, which defends homeschooling families worldwide.
Spokesman Mike Donnelly, the director of global outreach for the group, said in a new report, “Enough Chinese parents have turned to homeschooling to make the movement a concern for the national government.”
He said the nation’s General Office of the Ministry of Education recently issued a statement “officially condemning homeschooling.”
The statement also “warned that the practice is forbidden,” he wrote.
The announcement followed by only weeks a “related decision” by the Communist Party’s Central Committee that “mandated that education must include ideological teachings on socialism.”
“This ideology must ‘cover all schools and those receiving education,'” the statement said, “leaving no room for homeschoolers to escape the socialist worldview.”
The actual requirements haven’t changed significantly, HSDLA’s report confirmed, since a 1986 law requires nine years of education for children at “registered schools.”
But legal loopholes have been available for parents who want to teach their children how to think.
No more, apparently.
“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,” the report said.
HSLDA confirmed there are tens of thousands of homeschooled students, but in a nation of 1.3 billion, that’s a small number.
However, 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,” Donnelly reported.
He noted a 21st Century Education Research report found “nearly 54 percent of homeschool parents in China state they disagree with the education philosphy taught in the public schools.”
Homeschoolers over recent months have seen an “increasing hostility,” the report said.
The nation’s “renewed repression of Christian churches and other religious groups has been on ongoing source of concern for human rights advocates” and “shows that the regime is more than capable of taking brutal measures.”
The opposition is despite China’s participation in “numerous international human rights treaties that affirm the rights of parents and children to access home education.”
The Chinese announcement said that its compulsory programs must be accepted by all children.
They “should not be allowed,” the announcement said, “to study at home.”
It was only a few years ago that the South China Morning Post reported the “increasing number of mainland parents who are disillusioned with the education system” and have been taking advantage of a legal loophole to homeschool.
“Official oversight has allowed more parents to teach their children at home or send them to home schools run by like-minded parents or private tutors,” the 2014 report said.
And just one year earlier, a report said 10 percent of Chinese parents who homeschooled said their children “progress too slowly in government schools.”