HK Laws about Homeschool

Homeschooling in Hong Kong is not against the law. This has been confirmed by the previous Permanent Secretary of the Education Bureau, Ms. Cherry Tse Ling Kit Ching and also raised by Legislator Dennis Kwok at a meeting of the Legislative Council. The EDB treats homeschooling on a case by case basis. *  

* Legislative Council

Source: http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201410/15/P201410150219.htm (dated 10 September, 2015)

Position of the Education Bureau (EDB) on homeschooling

A written reply by the Secretary for Education (Mr. Eddie Ng Hak-kim) to the question raised by the Hon. Dennis Kowk in the Legislative Council on October 15, 2014 (full text)

·         The Government provides nine years of free and universal basic education to children aged between six and 15. According to sections 74 and 78 of the Education Ordinance (Cap. 279), parents have a legal responsibility to ensure that their children within these ages attend school regularly. When cases involving school-age children failing to attend school regularly are found, officers of the EDB will contact the parents concerned or make home visits to see if the educational needs of the children have been properly addressed. If the parents insist on keeping their children at home without valid reasons, the Permanent Secretary of the EDB may issue an attendance order under the Education Ordinance, requiring the parents to send their children to school.

·         The EDB holds that school education provides children with a broader and more structured formal curriculum as well as rich learning experiences, and creates an environment where students can interact and exchange ideas among peers and with teachers. All these are essential for the all-round development of children in the areas of ethics, intellect, physique, social skills and aesthetics. Hence, the EDB does not encourage home-schooling in place of formal school education.

·         The EDB is of the view that it is not necessary to set up a task force on home-schooling. While the EDB would not as a rule disallow home-schooling, for the interest of the children, the EDB would examine it case by case taking into account relevant factors on whether the family is likely to be able to provide children with all-round education. Parents who wish to home-school can write or email to the EDB seeking an assessment.

HK Laws

Basic Law

(full text)

a.       Article 136:  
(1) On the basis of the previous educational system, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall, on its own, formulate policies on the development and improvement of education, including policies regarding the educational system and its administration, the language of instruction, the allocation of funds, the examination system, the system of academic awards and the recognition of educational qualifications. 
(2) Community organizations and individuals may, in accordance withlaw, run educational undertakings of various kinds in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

b.      Article 137 
(1) Educational institutions of all kinds may retain their autonomy and enjoy academic freedom. They may continue to recruit staff and use teaching materials from outside the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Schools run by religious organizations may continue to provide religious education, including courses in religion. 
(2) Students shall enjoy freedom of choice of educational institutionsand freedom to pursue their education outside the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Basic Law

Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (full text)

Part II Section 8 of the Ordinance sets out the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. Article 15(4) of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights provides that the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions shall be respected. This provision basically follows the language of Article 18(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (applicable in Hong Kong as explained in “International Laws” section below).

Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance

Education Ordinance (full text)

a.       Section 3 (Interpretation): "school" (學校) means an institution, organization or establishment which provides for 20 or more persons during any one day or 8 or more persons at any one time, any nursery, kindergarten, primary, secondary or post secondary education or any other educational course by any means, including correspondence delivered by hand or through the postal services;

 

b.      Section 74 (Power of Permanent Secretary to order attendance at primary school or secondary school)

(1) Where it appears to the Permanent Secretary that a child is not attending primary school or secondary school without any reasonable excuse, the Permanent Secretary may, after making such inquiries as he considers necessary, serve upon a parent of the child an attendance order in the specified form requiring him to cause the child to attend regularly as a pupil the primary school or secondary school named in the attendance order.

(2) The Permanent Secretary may at any time, by notice in writing served upon a parent of the child to whom an attendance order relates-

   (a) vary the order by substituting another primary school or secondary school for that named in the order;

  (b) otherwise vary or withdraw the order, and any variation of an attendance order shall take effect on the expiry of the period of 14 days after the date of service of the notice in writing.

(3) This section shall-

  (c) not apply to a child- (Amended 47 of 1990 s. 6)

     (i) who has completed Form III of secondary education and whose parent can produce evidence to that effect to the satisfaction of the Permanent Secretary;

     (ii) who is a registered apprentice under the Apprenticeship Ordinance (Cap 47); or

     (iii) who is attending regularly, or is an inmate of, an institution (other than a school) which is regarded by the Permanent Secretary as suitable for the child.

 

c.       Section 78 (Enforcement of order)

Any parent who without reasonable excuse fails to comply with an attendance order (as the same may be varied from time to time) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine at level 3 and to imprisonment for 3 months: Provided that if an appeal is made against an attendance order or a variation of an attendance order under section 74A, no offence shall be committed by reason of a failure to comply with the attendance order or the attendance order as varied, as the case may be, until the appeal has been disposed of, withdrawn or abandoned.

 

d.      Section 84 (Regulations)

(1) The Chief Executive in Council may make regulations providing for-

     (aa) the better carrying into effect of the provisions of this Ordinance in relation to any matter as to which it may be convenient to make regulations.

Education Ordinance

International Laws

By virtue of Article 39 of the Basic Law, the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force and shall be implemented through the laws of the Hong Kong SAR.

International Laws

 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (full text)

a.       Article 18 Paragraph 4: The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (full text)

a.       Article 13 Paragraph 1: The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

b.      Article 13 Paragraph 3: The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.

c.       Article 13 Paragraph 4: No part of this article shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principles set forth in paragraph I of this article and to the requirement that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (full text)

a.       Article 26(1): Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

b.      Article 26(3): Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Taiwan

1.     Taiwan legalized homeschooling in June 1999, and the Legislative Yuan of Taiwan passed a new law specifically governing homeschooling on November 4, 2014.

 

2.     Enforcement Act for Non-School-Based Experimental Education across Education Levels below Senior High School (“Experimental Education Act”) (full text)

a.       Purpose (Article 1): This Act is provided in order to preserve students’ right to learn, and patents’ right to choose education; education methods and content other than the same adopted by school system are offered in accordance with Paragraph 3, Article 8, and Article 13 of the Education Basic Law.

b.      Definition, eligibility and effect of homeschooling (Article 3)

§   “non-school-based experimental education” (“experimental education”) shall mean educations, other than school education, that adopt experimental curriculum, are non-for-profit, and aim to develop holistic citizens with balanced teachings of morals, knowledge, physical strength, social skill, and aesthetics.

Ø  The concepts of experimental education shall be students-centered and respect students’ multi-cultural and religious background, multiple intelligences, curriculum, teaching, teaching material, teaching method, or assessment shall adopt the goal of providing guidance for students according to their learning capacity. (Article 8(1)).

Ø  Teaching of experimental education shall be assumed by personnel having the expertise practically concerning the teaching content (Article 8(2)).

Ø  Curriculum, teaching, subjects, and methods of experimental education shall be consistent with experimental education plan permitted by the respective the competent authority of the municipal, county, or city government without being limited to curriculum guidelines (Article 8(3)).

§   Persons qualified to enter elementary school, junior high school, or senior high school may enroll in experimental education applicable to the respective education level pursuant to this Act.

§   Students enrolled in experimental education as citizen education level (i.e., elementary and junior secondary) pursuant to this Act are regarded as enrolling in school education of the equivalent level and are exempted from the Compulsory Education Act.

c.       3 Types of experimental education (Article 4)

§   Individual: experimental education administered at home or other locations for individual student.

§   Group (up to 30 students): experimental education administered at common hours and location for three or more students.

§   Institution (up to 25 students per class and up to 250/125 students for citizen education/senior high school level): experimental education administered by incorporated, non-for-profit seeking institute at fixed location with purpose of experimenting classes.

d.      Application for homeschooling (Article 6):

§   Parents should apply no later than April 30 or October 31 each year to the city or county government of their residence by submitting an application form and a proposal outlining the objectives, method, and content (curriculum, assessment, facilities, and equipment used) of the education, as well as the expected outcomes and background information of the people involved in the child's education.

§   When reviewing applications, the experimental education review committee gives consideration to (Article 12):

Ø  Protecting the right of students to education and the parental right of educational choice; respecting cultural and religious diversity;

Ø  The proposal being reasonable, doable, and in compliance with Section 1 of Article 8 of the Act; and

Ø  Expected outcomes.

§   Parents may apply to do homeschooling for up to six years of elementary education, three years of junior secondary education, and three years of senior secondary education. The senior secondary education stage may be extended by two years if necessary.

§   Applications are evaluated by the review committee of each city or county, of which at least two fifths of the members must be experimental education parents or representatives of experimental education associations.

e.       Registration and certificate (Articles 15, 16 and 17):

§   Despite being homeschooled, elementary and junior secondary experimental education students still need to be registered under a district school, which performs an administrative function. This includes accepting applications and issuing a graduation certificate once the experimental education student has satisfied the graduation requirements as outlined in the application proposal and approved by the review committee.

§   Senior secondary experimental education students may choose to cooperate with a senior secondary school to receive a graduation certificate providing that they satisfy the graduation requirements as outlined in the cooperation plan approved by the review committee. Experimental education students choosing not to cooperate with a senior secondary school will be issued with student identity cards by the local competent authority so that they may enjoy the same rights and privileges as school students. Students who have completed three years of experimental education, and who have been issued with a completion certificate by the competent authority proving as much, are eligible to apply to study at university without first sitting those exams taken by their schooled peers.

Homeschooling Laws in other Jurisdictions

United States

1.     Homeschooling is lawful in all 50 states in the U.S. Homeschooling laws in the U.S. can be divided into the following three categories:

a.       Category 1 (homeschool as a type of private school):homeschooling requirements are based on its treatment as a type of private school in some states (e.g., California, Indiana and Texas), where homeschools are generally required to comply with the samelaws that apply to other (usually non-accredited) schools.

b.      Category 2 (compulsory attendance statute): homeschoolrequirements are based on the unique wording of the state's compulsory attendance statute without any specific reference to "homeschooling" in some other states (e.g., New Jersey and Maryland), where the requirements for homeschooling are set by the particular parameters of the compulsory attendance statute.

c.       Category 3 (homeschooling-specific statutes): In other states (e.g., Maine, New Hampshire and Iowa), homeschool requirements are based on a statute or group of statutes that specifically applies tohomeschooling, although statutes often refer to homeschooling using other terms (e.g., “home instruction” in Virginia and “competent private instruction” in South Dakota). In these states, the requirements for homeschooling are set out in the relevant statutes.

 

2.     While every state has some requirements on homeschooling, there is great diversity in the type, number and level of burden imposed. Generally, the burden is less in states in category 1 above. In addition, many states offer more than one option for homeschooling, with different requirements applying to each option.

Homeschooling Laws in other Jurisdictions

Canada

Since education falls under provincial jurisdiction in Canada, the lawsvary from province to province. Each province except Ontario requires thathomeschooling families inform the local school board of their intent to homeschooleach school year. Some provinces require that homeschooling plans be submitted to the local superintendent of education (e.g., AlbertaSaskatchewanManitobaand Prince Edward Island). Only one province (Manitoba) requires the submission of two annual progress reports for each homeschooled child. In each province, thelaws or policies provides that the Ministry of Education has the right to proceed with an investigation under circumstances where there is evidence that a family may not be providing satisfactory instruction at home.

Other Jurisdictions

England and Wales

Homeschooling is not illegal in England and Wales. Section 7 (Duty of parents to secure education of children of compulsory school age) of the Education Act 1996 (full text) provides that:

            The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—

              (a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and

              (b) to any special educational needs he may have,

            either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Other Jurisdictions

Indonesia

Homeschooling is legal in Indonesia under the Law on the National Education System (No. 20/2003) (full English translation). Article 7(1) of the lawprovides that parents shall have the right to take part in the choice of the unit of education for their children and to obtain information concerning circumstance of their children’s education.

Other Jurisdictions

* Credit: Thanks to Latham & Watkins conducted this legality study in Nov, 2015.

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