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Home >> Sci-Edu
UPDATED: 09:22, September 20, 2006
'Education at home' boy to be sent back to school
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A case possibly involving Beijing's first dispute over fostering rights based on an argument over home schooling for a child or public education came to a conclusion yesterday with the court's verdict against the mother.

The Shijingshan District People's Court ruled against the divorced woman who wanted to win back the right to bring up her son. She had claimed her ex-husband was depriving the boy of a school education but the court found no evidence for that.

However, it did say the father must now send the 7-year-old boy to school because that would be better for the youngster's overall development.

The mother Wang Yu, 37, who said she worked at the Beijing branch of the Hong Kong-based newspaper Wenweipo, had accused her ex-husband of isolating their son by forcing a home education on him.

"Kept at home all day with little social communication for two years, the boy's well-being has been damaged," said Wang.

But Hou Bo, the father, refuted this, saying home education had a lot of advantages for the boy.

A test conducted by the Galaxy Primary School in Shijingshan District this month showed the child, who should be in the second grade, had already reached the level required for grade four students. The boy said in court that he enjoyed his home education.

The mother lost the case because there was no evidence proving the child was unhappy because of the father's education system, according to the court.

Hou was a doctor in the China Railway Construction Hospital in Beijing before being dismissed in 2003 for unknown reasons.

He and Wang divorced in 2000 and Hou was given custody of the child. However, the boy still lived with Wang until 2004, and went to a kindergarten during that time.

Wang claimed Hou's eccentricity and lack of income were the main reasons for choosing home education. But Hou said his son did not do well in kindergarten, and was always fighting with his peers and lying.

China's revised Compulsory Education Law, which came into effect this month, says carers of any school age child should send them to school for nine years of education.

But the law doesn't say what punishment will be given to those who ignore the law.

"A punishment ... wasn't written in because the punishment may be difficult to implement. But home education is absolutely not advocated," said an official involved in revising the law.

Some parents are still abandoning public schooling for various reasons such as a belief schools focus on high scores, assign too much homework and neglect those lagging behind, said Xu Xin, a professor with the Southwest University of Political Science and Law.

Xu said home schooling may also lead to defects in a child's personality, as he/she lacks chances to be involved in group activities.

"Parents should be prudent when choosing home or private education. They should judge the quality of educators first," said Xu.

Source: China Daily

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