Julio Severo's response to the Brazilian Embassy:
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The Brazilian Embassy makes it sound that we want to create laws to oblige all low-income children to attend homeschooling or make homeschooling the only educational option, whether or not their parents agree. We do not want it. This is not democratic. To oblige families to choose only an educational option is not democratic and it is against the Article 26.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We want, as this Declaration determines, that families, who have conditions, have the right to choose the best kind of education for their children. In the case of some Christian families in Brazil, this choiceÝis home-based.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, states that "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion...and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching." This liberty extends to parents' rights to choose their child's education "in conformity with their own convictions." (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 18.)
The embassy implied that there is no prosecution against families who homeschool. This is a great contradiction, for the embassy itself declared that all children in Brazil are legally obliged to attend school. Nothing will be done against the "law breaker families"?
The Brazilian authorities think the Vilhena family is the only family practicing homeschooling in Brazil. In fact, there are several other families homeschooling, but they do it secretly, for they fear the Brazilian law. They prefer to remain out of sight, even though UN documents protect their right to choose the education of their children:
States Parties... have respect for the liberty of parents...to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities... and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions. (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 13.3.)
Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26, No. 3.)
Yet, the message of the embassy makes it sound that the word State is a better substitute for the word parents in these documents. So should we read, "State has a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to children"? Is such conjecture correct? It seems the Minister of Education of Brazil has acted as though it were really true!
Mr. Roberto Goidanich used a beautiful "democratic" speech to defend the right of the Brazilian State to "choose" and "decide" on behalf of parents the best education for children.
He said there are differences between children in America and Brazil. What might make Brazilian children disqualified for homeschooling?
Often, American parents homeschool their children because they want to protect them from a pornographic sex education and other bad influences. If Brazilian public education is different, as alleges Mr. Goidanich, why the official curriculum of the Ministry of Education has a bibliography containing books and groups linked to SIECUS, Planned Parenthood and other American groups? This bibliography also contains books approving masturbation, oral and anal sex, homosexuality, contraception, occultism, etc. and groups approving these behaviors and even abortion. Besides, the curriculum itself orders the teacher:
äthe approach to the sexuality in the field of the education should be explicitä
äo teacher should understand that the expressions of the child sexuality are pleasurable and they are part of the healthy development of every human beingä such expressions should not be condemned or judged according to moral doctrines. In that way the teacher helps students recognize as lawful and legitimate their needs and desires of getting pleasureä
The teacher should not express a value judgment about those attitudesä
For instance, if the teacher says that a sexual relationship is the one that happens between a man and a woman after marriage to have children, he will be expressing his personal values (sex only after marriageä). It is necessary that the teacher may recognizeä the legitimacy of values and behaviors different from his.
As to social interaction, all children are to be indoctrinated this way and children are to be socially interacted to the indoctrinated ones in the public educationä Is it fair? Is it democratic?
Recently, an article written by me was published in a national magazine. See what a Brazilian reader wrote me:
I liked a lot the article "The Evangelical Dilemma In The Education Of Their Children", for I am a public school teacher and I closely see the absurdities that the students are taught in the classroom, absurdities which are totally contrary to God's Word. The bad companies for our children are also many, not mentioning drugs, which a lot of times enter in the schools and the parents are never aware what is happening. I would like you to address more times this matter concerning [homeschooling]. This magazine [Defense of Faith] has done an excellent work. God does bless you!
Rosana - Campinas, SP (October 23, 2001 email)
The teacher Rosana has told the "social interaction" students are given at her public school. Undoubtedly, there are a number of concerns in her heart: falling test scores, high illiteracy rate and increasing violence, among other grave troubles with our schools. What's more, there are cases of drugs, guns, crimes and even bombs in Brazilian schools. Mrs. Vilhena has several documents showing that often public schools here are unsafe for children. Where is the difference between public education in Brazil and USA? How different are we?
Children are children in all countries. They are not different. They have the same needs. The above-mentioned UN documents respect their needs and the rights of their parents to meet them. We in Brazil just want to live the rights the UN documents give us.
If there is democracy in Brazil, why is the Vilhena family being prosecuted and threatened? If the authorities in our country were acting democratically and were protecting the basic rights of the parents concerning the education of their children, we would not need to appeal to families in other countries.
We are aware that the modern homeschooling movement was also persecuted in your country, but God blessed you and gave you many victories. And now God is using you to bless other nations. We need the help from the homeschooling families in America.
Please, now help us and bless us too!
Rua Jose Sebastiao Pereira Lima, 331
37958-000 Monte Santo de Minas, MG
Tel.: (35) 3591-3059