Many parents in Germany avoid compulsory schooling – and thus risk imprisonment
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Attending school is part of childhood for the vast majority of children in Germany. After all, it is a duty – the decision on whether one’s own child should go to school or not is made by the legislature.
Nevertheless, there are around 1000 children in Germany who do not go to school, as the “Welt” reports. Instead, they put math, German or English at the dining room tables at home – teachers are mostly their own parents. This is not allowed, the legal guardians even risk long prison terms if they violate the obligation to ensure their children attend school regularly.
There has been a long dispute among the experts over the question of whether compulsory school attendance still makes sense. Proponents of the duty argue above all that the school not only conveys knowledge, but also offers space for social interaction. Opponents of compulsory schooling ask themselves above all: Is the state allowed to decide what a child learns and where?
Relaxation of compulsory schooling is difficult to implement
Franz Reimer is a professor of public law and legal theory at the Justus Liebig University in Gießen and thinks it is a fairy tale that the well-being of children is at risk if children are denied access to school, as he explained to the “world”. That is not scientifically proven.
There are plenty of alternative models for compulsory schooling: in the United States and most European countries, instead of compulsory schooling, there is, for example, a so-called compulsory education – parents are obliged to ensure that their children are adequately educated. This is regularly checked by tests and home visits by the state.
Die Welt spoke to the Schaum family from Homburg in northern Hesse, who have been teaching their nine children at home consistently – and have been doing so since 1993. Mother Marit prefers to teach her children instead of sending them to school, where they are confronted with content that could not be compatible with some of the family’s beliefs that are true to the Bible. As a result, the parents often had to accept punishments – but before sending their children to school, the family would rather emigrate, as Schaum emphasized to the newspaper.
15-year-old "too sensitive" to go to school
The case of a 15-year-old school refusal from Münster recently became public because his parents fought in court to free their son from compulsory schooling. According to psychologists, the boy is "too sensitive" to go to school. He had assured his parents several times that he would rather be dead than go to school. The parents now face a penalty, the court has so far seen no reason why the boy should be exempt from compulsory education.
The lawyer Andreas Vogt explains with traditional reasons that loosening compulsory education in Germany is difficult to implement: “Compulsory education has become something of a sacred cow for us. It is as if the supporters fear the outbreak of anarchy if they are softened ”.
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