More Dutch parents consider homeschooling


Western Europe


Dutch student doing homework during the lockdown. Photo ANP, Bart Maat

The number of children educated by their parents at home for religious reasons grew by 21 per cent last year. Sometimes, other reasons for homeschooling are hidden under a religious cloak.

Never before did so many Dutch children receive an exemption from compulsory education because parents said they could no longer find a school suited to their convictions, Dutch daily Nederlands Dagblad reports.

The trend of an increasing number of homeschooled children has been ongoing since the beginning of this century. Still, never before has the increase been so fast, the Nederlands Dagblad writes, based on statistics from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Not all children are educated at home for religious reasons. Some children cannot go to school because they are not mentally or psychologically fit enough. Therefore, it is hard to find statistics showing exactly how many children are educated at home for religious reasons.

Sijbrand Balkema estimates that about a third of the homeschooling parents choose to educate their children themselves for religious reasons. Balkema is the president of the Dutch Association for Home Schooling. The association counts about 600 members. Balkema tells the Nederlands Dagblad that people suspected of keeping their children home for other reasons than their religious convictions can be taken to court.

He notices that the Covid pandemic has contributed to the growing interest in homeschooling. Because of the lockdowns, parents experienced a bit of what homeschooling was like. The main difference between the distance education used during the lockdowns and real homeschooling is that the school remains responsible if the pupils are taught from a distance. Homeschooling parents and children are exempt from mandatory schooling.

However, the argument of a positive experience with homeschooling is no valid reason to get such an exemption, the Nederlands Dagblad explains. And if a child has attended a school before the Covid pandemic, parents cannot appeal to the argument of convictions. Balkema notices that in extreme cases, parents move to Belgium to be allowed to home school.

The problem with homeschooling is that no one checks the quality of parents' education, Balkema says. Currently, the Dutch government is working on a law that sets out more requirements for homeschooling education.



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