From Monday's Globe and Mail Published on Monday, Mar. 22, 2010 3:09AM EDT
Now the German family will take their cause one step further when they appear before the Immigration and Refugee board in Alberta Tuesday to request asylum on the grounds that they would be persecuted for home-schooling their children, and risk being locked up and losing their children if they return to their homeland. The hearing is closed, and a decision could take weeks or even months.
Such a case is believed to be rare, if not unique in Canada, and comes on the heels of a U.S. immigration judge granting political asylum earlier this year to a German family who claimed they were being persecuted for teaching their children at home. There have been reports of parents being fined in Germany for home-schooling their children and being threatened with loss of child custody.
"It's a very unusual case, to be claiming protection against Germany, a democratic country that is internationally renowned for protecting its citizens. But not in this case," said the family's lawyer, Jean Munn.
Home-schooling is not permitted in Germany, with rare exceptions.
Many parents who home-school are Christians seeking a more religious education.
But the family, who doesn't want to be identified because they fear their two teenage boys will be taken away by German authorities, say it's not about religion. "In this case, religion plays a role less important than reasons of conscience and reasons with respect to the medical well-being of these children," Ms. Munn said.
The boys were born four months premature. One suffers from lung problems and is prone to infection. The other is highly gifted, but suffers from Lyme disease, which can cause chronic arthritis and neurological symptoms.
The boys' mother said their eldest daughter attended school in Germany, but the unruly behaviour of students and the lax rules left a lot to be desired. The government told them that their boys would be placed in a school for children with both physical and cognitive disabilities. "The children would not have an education that they might have needed," the mother said.
The parents taught their children at home as they fought with German education officials to continue a home-based education. At one point, one of the boys was sent to a special school, but his parents removed him. In 2006, the government relented, and, because of their illnesses, both children were home-schooled with the support of a state teacher, the mother said. But as the teacher was leaving when the school year ended, she told the family to leave the country, the mother said. Two days later, police came by the house with a registered letter from the government that informed the parents that they must either enroll both their children in school the following year or their boys would be taken away, the mother said.
The family packed their belongings and hid in Germany for three months, before making their way into Denmark. From there, they made contact with the Home School Legal Defense Association, a non-profit advocacy group in the United States that also has an office in Canada, who helped them travel to North America in April, 2007.
Ms. Munn will argue tomorrow the family needs protection to avoid persecution based on their membership in a particular social group, and if they return, they will be persecuted and punished. In 2007, the German federal supreme court ruled that parents can lose custody of their children if they home-school them.
"The consequences for other families have included significant fines, incarceration and threats to have children put into the care of the state," Ms. Munn said. "It's a strong case for protection, because of the consequences that would occur if this family were required to return to Germany. The fact that it's the state imposing those consequences means there's no alternative for them in Germany."
The German embassy declined comment on home-schooling in Germany. In Canada, children have been taught at home for generations. But in the 1980s, home instruction also started attracting families concerned about the quality of classroom instruction and the impact of peer pressure on learning.
The boys' mother said she fears the worst if they are sent back. "The first thing that could happen is [my husband] has to go to jail. I have to go to jail. Because we are both in jail, they are free to serve the children. The children will be put in the psychiatrics."
The boys, she said, are thriving while being home-schooled in Alberta. "For us, it's a gift, a real gift to be able to home-school our children," she said.
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Home Schooling has its examples of success but not so obvious, is the child
abuse that results when children the parent or parents lack the ability or the
correct motivations or simply fail to ensure normal social skills are learned.
Germany, has educational, homeschooling, legislation, to ensure the rights of all children are protected. Germany has decided the prejudice of the probability of failures of home schooling is so great that Germany has decided to place strict controls on home schooling.
These parents were legally able to home school in Germany but failed to satisfy Germany's legal requirements. They do not qualify as refugees in Canada.
In Canada, home schooling is done by a wide variety of parents, most do it to maintain a religious control over the children to ensure they "think" the same as the parents and will pass that brainwashing on to their children.
Other single parent homeschoolers do it to alienate a non-custodial parent.
Just when does home schooling end? The years prior to elementary school? Elementary school? High School? University?
It begs the question as to the type of environment infants should be allowed to grow up in. Staying home with one parent or grandparent without contact with other children deprives children of social skills that sets them up to have severe personality and or social problems later in life.
Strict rules for homeschooling mean that less children grow up in dysfunctional homes deprived of appropriate meaningful social contact.
Its amazing the number of delusional parents who, in many cases, without any
educational training, think they can do it better than the schools.
Provinces regulate standards across private and public schools, and while many public, catholic and private schools have few differences in the education received, there can be very large differences in social skills learned, attitudes adopted, and how they end up later in life.
Parents can be paranoid and choose home schooling because they just cant bring themselves to trust anyone else to educate their kids. Its only a very small percentage of home schoolers who can do a better job on all areas including social skills than the schools.
Canada needs to overhaul its legislation regarding the rights of children from birth.
Children deserve to know WHO their biological parents are, not the politically correct names on the birth certificate if there is father named.
Children's birth certificates need their own DNA information, and that of the mother and the father so that the father in particular is actually the father. Around 25% of all birth certificates in Canada do not have a father named or the wrong father named. That's generally because the mother wanted a cperm donor and a child to keep all to herself.
Children have a right to have a relationship with both parents, in CAnada, there is NO such legal right. Canada as a result, has a declining birth rate, men are simply choosing not to be parents because, their children will NOT have, do NOT have a legal right to equal parenting by both parents.
Its the Male Sharia Law, the Male Gender Apartheid in Canada that results in a massive number of "mothers" who don't want a man around, who end up "home schooling" the children, to ensure the maximum possible alienation from any man, let alone the real biological father who in Canada has no legal purpose other than providing "child support" while deprived of all legal rights.