Allow children to receive education at home
Asked by : Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Replied by : SEM
Given the recent case in which a parent refused to let his daughter receive school education and would educate her at home instead, will the Government inform this Council:
- whether there are policy, guidelines or standards allowing parents not to send their children to schools but to educate them at home instead; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
- of the number of cases handled in the past five years involving parents choosing to let their children stay home to receive education and, in these cases, of the attitude of these parents, the learning of the children, the handling procedure of the Education Department, and the counselling and support actions provided for these families; and
- whether it will review the policy on whether children should be allowed to receive education at home; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
| Government's policy is to provide nine years of free and universal education to children aged between six and 15. Accordingly, children within these ages must attend school. We have no plan to review/change this policy. We firmly believe, having regard to Hong Kong's present socio-economic situation, it is in the best interest of children that they should all go to school. The school provides a more balanced and structured formal curriculum as well as extra curriculum activities, and opportunities for interaction with peers and teachers. All these are essential for all-round development, covering the domains of ethics, intellect, physique, social skills and aesthetics.
If parents persistently do not send their children to school without valid reasons, the Director of Education (DE) may issue an attendance order under the Education Ordinance, requiring the parents to send their children to school. It is an offence if parents do not comply with an attendance order.
When the attention of the Education Department (ED) is drawn to cases involving parents keeping their children away from school, officers of ED will first conduct home visits to understand the situation. The Department will also arrange school inspectors to visit the families to see if the educational needs of the children have been properly addressed through home teaching. Educational psychologists will also assess whether the psychological development of the children has been affected. Counselling and other support services, such as remedial teaching services, will also be provided as necessary. If the parents insist on keeping their children at home without valid reasons, DE may issue an attendance order mentioned in the above paragraph.
In the past five years, there were two such cases, including the one referred to in this question. In both cases, the parents believed that they could provide better education at home for their children. Both cases are followed up in accordance with the established procedures described above. The child involved in the earlier case will return to school shortly after ED's intervention.