Posted on Mar 31 2010 in International Homeschooling by Yvonne Bunn
Friday, March 26, 2010
Brazilian Couple Receive Criminal Conviction for Homeschooling
Verdict given despite sons passing law school entrance exams — at ages 13 and 14
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent
MINAS GERAIS, BRAZIL, March 26, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Despite the fact that his children passed difficult government imposed tests, and even qualified for law school at the ages of 13 and 14, homeschooler Cleber Nunes and his wife Bernadeth have been slapped with fines equivalent to a total of $3,200 for refusing to submit their children to the Brazilian school system. However, Nunes told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) that he has no intention to pay the fine, although he says that he might have to spend 15-30 days in jail if he does not.
Although homeschooling is common in many countries, including the United States, and is associated with higher levels of academic achievement, it is completely prohibited in Brazil, the government of which has become increasingly intrusive in recent decades following the establishment of a socialist regime in the 1990s. Since Nunes began to homeschool his two oldest children four years ago, his family has been subject to repeated threats of fines, imprisonment, and loss of custody. However, he has resisted steadfastly, and his case has gained national attention.
The guilty verdict in the criminal case against Nunes, which follows two negative verdicts in a parallel civil case that ended over a year ago, was given despite
the fact that David and Jonatas Nunes had passed a difficult set of tests imposed by the criminal court.
“They had asked the kids to do the tests to check their level of knowledge, and also psychological tests to check their mental health,” Nunes told LifeSiteNews
(LSN). “It seems that the only valid result they expected was the failure of the kids.”
The tests imposed by the court on Nunes’ children were so difficult that one of the teachers who had designed it reportedly admitted that she herself could not pass it. However, David and Jonatas Nunes both passed the exams by margins of five and eight percentage points.
Despite his sons’ performance, however, the government has again ruled against Nunes, this time in criminal court, and ordered a fine. The total amount in fines owed by Nunes as a result of the decisions against him has mounted to over $3,200 in U.S. dollars.
“If they impose tests it means that two possibilities should be considered. They could be suffering intellectual abandonment, or not,” Nunes told LSN. “In other words, they were trying to prove they were victims. But they passed and they kept saying we were criminal.”
Nunes says that despite his success, the judge ruled against him because of his style of home schooling, in which the children direct their own learning, with Nunes overseeing the process.
“The judge said we left the children to learn by themselves,” said Nunes. “He recognized that they passed the university entrance examination and the tests, but said that it was by their own efforts,” he added, calling that a “joke.” “They want to take control of them, of their minds”
Nunes says he has decided not to appeal the ruling, because Brazil’s Supreme Court has already refused to hear the appeal of his civil case. Although he has paid his wife’s fine to spare her jail time, he says he will not pay his own fine.
“The natural thing to do is appeal, but I don’t trust the Brazilian judges,” Nunes told LSN. “They already showed who they are and what they want. They are not interested in protecting our kids….They want to take control of them, of their minds, they want them out of their home.”
Although he has refused to comply with the rulings against him, Nunes currently faces no more legal difficulties stemming from the homeschooling of David and Jonatas, because they are now beyond the age of mandatory schooling.
However, his daughter could soon be subject to compulsory schooling in Brazil. She will soon turn four, the age at which compulsory schooling begins in Brazil.
Cleber Nunes (he speaks English) can be contacted at email@example.com.
To contact the Brazilian Embassy:
Embassy of Brazil in the USA
3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Embassy of Brazil in Canada
450 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6M8
Phone: 613-237-1090 or 613-755-5160
Embassies of Brazil to other Nations: