Tuesday September 7, 2010

UN Treaty Used to Threaten Homeschool Families in Botswana

Botswana, Sept. 7, 2010 ( – This week the fate of four homeschooling families will be decided in Botswana, reports the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). The families, adherents to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, have been ordered by a judge to send their children to public school.

Despite the judge’s ruling indicating that the children were cared for and that the parents took steps to provide for the education of their children, the court found that they still need to go to public school because Botswana has acceded to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The legal standard under the UNCRC is the “best interests of the child,” which HSLDA says essentially amounts to the state having “the authority to determine how children should be raised and educated.”

On Sept. 3 the HSLDA reported that the families “are seeking an urgent interdict to prevent the magistrate court from taking any action against this family.”

“HSLDA has warned about the danger of the UNCRC to homeschooling families. It gives almost unlimited powers to judges to decide how children should be raised,” said Mike Donnelly, Director of International Relations for HSLDA. “We are asking our 85,000 member families to contact the Botswana Embassy and Office of the President of Botswana to protect these families’ basic rights to decide what is best for their children,” he added.

The Botswana families are determined to continue homeschooling. “I must obey God. The schools here are corrupt and teach my children things that go against our faith and our values. I cannot allow them to go to these schools,” said Mr. Modimoothata, a retired technician and father of four teenagers. His wife Margaret is a senior project manager for Botswana railways.

“We find the behavior of the Botswana police and courts outrageous and hope that more responsible leadership will be applied to remedy this situation without undue trauma to these children,” said Leendert Van Oostrum, Director of The Pestalozzi Trust, a South Africa-based homeschooling legal defense organization that is representing the families.

For more information, read the HSLDA article “Homeschoolers Interrogated by Secret Police, Face Imprisonment,” here.

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