Santa Catarina, Brazil (16 August 2023) Regiane Cichelero, a Christian mother in Santa Catarina, Brazil, is facing legal challenges and fines after making the choice to homeschool her son. ADF International is supporting her legal defense, highlighting that international human rights law protects the right of parents to choose the kind of education that is best for their children, including education in the home.
Following the local public school’s closure during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, Cichelero started homeschooling her 12-year-old son. Once the schools reopened in March 2021, Cichelero made the choice to keep educating him at home, believing it was the best way she could ensure her son receives a high-quality education in accordance with the family’s religious convictions.
Following her decision to homeschool, Cichelero received a legal challenge from local prosecutors for declining to enroll her son in the local school system. Cichelero has been fined in the amount of $300 USD for not registering her son in school, plus an additional per diem fine of $20 USD up to $1,200 USD until she re-enrolls her son with the local school. In addition, the judge in the case initially threatened to remove her son from her custody if she continued to homeschool.
“Parental rights are clearly under attack in Brazil,” said Julio Pohl, ADF International’s Legal Counsel for Latin America, which is supporting Cichelero’s legal defense. “The fact that Regiane Cichelero has not only been prosecuted and fined, but also threatened with the removal of her child for choosing to homeschool is reprehensible. Parents are the first authority for the education of their children, and this reaction from the local authorities is a complete violation of her rights as a parent guaranteed under international law. We look forward to seeking justice for Cichelero and her family”.
Over 70,000 children are currently homeschooled in Brazil. International human rights law protects the rights of parents to make choices concerning the type of education that their children receive.
Article 26.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”. In addition, Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights holds that states must respect the right of parents “to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions”.
In response to the legal ordeal, Regiane Cichelero stated, “I choose to homeschool my son because I believe this is what is best for him, and am committed to providing him with the best possible education. Moreover, homeschooling ensures that I can impart our faith and values, which are so important to our family, to him on a daily basis—values that are consistently challenged and undermined in Brazil’s public school system”.
“All parents have the God-given right and obligation to make choices that provide the best outcomes for our children. I am hopeful for the day when myself and others in Brazil can exercise our rights as parents without fear of being fined and prosecuted,” Cichelero added.