Brazilian Homeschool Couple May be Jailed if Their Children Fail Harsh Government Tests
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
MINAS GERAIS, Brazil, August 22, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - After receiving four days of intense testing by government authorities in a showdown over the future of homeschooling in Brazil, David and Jonatas Nunes are optimistic, despite the fact that the tests were changed on them only one week before, allowing little time for adequate study.
Although the Nunes family was initially told that the tests the children would be given were to be on mathematics, geography, science, and history, they were told only a week in advance that they would also be tested on Portuguese, English, arts, and physical education, including questions about the history of handball, basketball, soccer, and other sports.
The change put enormous pressure on two children who were already studying in a stressful situation.
"They’re two adolescents of 14 and 15 years of age who are studying for a test that could determine if their parents are going to be imprisoned or not," said Cleber Nunes to the television network Globo. "It’s a huge burden for them."
As LifeSiteNews reported previously, the Nunes children passed law school entrance exams at the ages of 13 and 14. Despite this success, Brazilian authorities decided to prosecute the family for "intellectual abandonment" because they were schooling the children at home rather than in a government-approved institution. If the Nunes lose the case, they could forfeit custody of their children, pay a steep fine, and even spend time in jail.
The Brazilian media, including the nation’s major television networks, are following the case closely, and the public is supportive of the Nunes’ struggle. Reports posted on network websites have received hundreds of comments, mostly indignant at the treatment being received by the Nunes family.
"I think it’s unjust to apply special criteria to them," said one reader, who added that "it would be more fair if the tests were done with other students who study in public schools." Another said that the public school system is "shameful".
"I asked the Portuguese teacher, in front of the cameras, if she could take the same tests the kids were going to take," Nunes told LifeSiteNews. The woman told him she couldn’t.
"Then, her boss said that every teacher has to know the subject they teach," said Nunes. "Isn’t it ironic?"
According to Nunes, the tests ask questions that few high school students, or even adults, could answer, on topics as diverse as Japanese theater, choral theory, and the works of Claude Monet. The tests were created by a committee of 16 public school teachers, specifically for the Nunes trial.
However, the Nunes family remains optimistic that the children answered a majority of the questions correctly, despite the seemingly impossible conditions under which they were administered.
In any case, Cleber Nunes is aware that the story of his children’s success has already reached the Brazilian public. "We already won," he told LifeSiteNews.
Previous LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Homeschooling Showdown in Brazil: Children to be Tested by Court in Battle Over Educational Rights of Parents
Brazilian Government Prosecutes Homeschooling Family, Threatens to Remove Children