The fact that about 2000 children are privately taught in Austria every year leads to the conclusion that the Austrian state is saving millions in education. These amounts would be urgently needed to ensure that children’s rights in home education are safe and secure.
Since the parental right to home schooling can be used without conditions and prerequisites by all parents whose children speak sufficient german, and since these parents must finance the private lessons of their children themselves, the state does not incur any further expenses for children in home schooling apart from the costs for the school books and the annual inspection.
According to the „national report on education in Austria 2018“, in the school year 2015/16 Austria incurred an average of euro 8066 per pupil in the vs primary school and euro 12 259 in the new secondary school.
In the school year 2018/19, about 2000 children were deregistered to home schooling. Since it can be assumed that these children are taught in equal parts according to the curriculum of the primary school and in the secondary school privately, the mean value of both school types, i.e. Euro 10.162,– education costs per year and child, can be used, which children do not consume in home schooling but would urgently need in order to protect their children’s rights in home schooling – the mean value – education expenditure value/child of Euro 10162,– multiplied by the number of children registered for home schooling results in an amount of slightly more than 20 million Euro.
Approaches to how the state attempts to protect children’s rights in privately run educational settings exist in many countries where homeschooling is permitted. In Austria, on the other hand, apart from the obligation of parents to respect the child’s welfare when teaching at home and the offer to take advantage of the textbook campaign for their privately taught children, there are no other voluntary or mandatory support offers. Whether or not parents respect the child’s welfare when teaching at home is left to the parents‘ discretion, as there are hardly any official controls. For many parents, these conditions are a carte blanche to simply disregard children’s rights.
I therefore believe that these framework conditions should be thoroughly reformed as soon as possible. It is for this reason, I proposed to some education spokespersons of the political parties represented in the national parliament „suggestions for the amendment of the law on home schooling“ in August 2019.
As an Instance, I would like to try to formulate some of the support needs that would be necessary to protect and safeguard the fundamental rights of children in home schooling.
In my opinion, additional reforms in the school system are needed to address the problems and disadvantages of children with regard to home schooling. (see „the school system is where problems and disadvantages of children in connection with home schooling are located“)
In my opinion, there is also a need for counselling services for parents in home schooling. The chapter „about parents‘ motives for withdrawing their children to home schooling“ also deals with educational questions, what parents want for their children and what children need in order to develop well both emotionally and cognitively. The chapter „dynamics promoting and inhibiting development through home schooling“ describes factors promoting and inhibiting development that can arise from home schooling or from teaching in a private school without public rights. In order to counteract these factors that hinder development, there is a need for educational and educational counselling services for parents in the context of home schooling.
In order to support children in home education in their right to adequate participation and consideration of their opinions in all matters concerning them, I believe that assistance is needed for children in private education.
In my opinion, also those official institutions in the context of domestic education with administrative enforcement rights should be legally strengthened in order to better protect children’s rights. This additional administrative burden could be co-financed from the unspent educational budget (’20 million for children’s rights in home education‘), as could educational and child-raising guidance services, assistance for children in private education and school reforms (see above).