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Parental rights victory in Chile: Court unanimously upholds family’s right to educational freedom in homeschooling case

Parental rights victory in Chile: Court unanimously upholds family’s right to educational freedom in homeschooling case

  • Chilean high court unanimously rules in favor of family that participated remotely in U.S.-based homeschooling program, upholding the human right of parents to choose the kind of education given to their children.
  • José Antonio Widow Aldunate, supported by ADF International, sought justice after his high-school diploma was rejected, barring him from university acceptance.

Santiago, Chile (1 August 2023) The Court of Appeals for San Miguel in Chile unanimously has recognized the right of parents to educational freedom, ruling that the choice to pursue foreign-based homeschooling programs must be recognized in the country as valid for all purposes. José Antonio Widow Aldunate and his parents, Felipe and Carolina, sought justice after his high school degree obtained remotely from Marble Falls Academy, a Texas-based school working in partnership with Argentinian Mare Verum Academy, as homeschool curriculum providers and assessors, was not recognized by the Chilean Ministry of Education. Because of this denial, Widow Aldunate was unable to apply to university. 

With legal support from ADF International, Aldunate’s family challenged the Ministry of Education’s discriminatory refusal of recognition. The Court affirmed that education received at home and certified by a foreign educational institution that operates under the laws of a foreign power must be recognized for all legal purposes in Chile. This unanimous decision thus legitimizes Widow Aldunate’s diploma, opening the door for him to pursue higher education in Chile, and for greater educational freedom in the country.  

“This is a victory for rights of parents in Chile in line with the guarantees of international human rights law,” said Tomás Henríquez, ADF International’s Director of Advocacy for Latin America. “Parents in Chile, under both the Chilean constitution and international law, have every right to choose the type of education that they believe is best for their children, even programs abroad. We argued that the law already recognized this, and the Ministry was wrong to assert otherwise. This decision confirms for the Widow Aldunate family, and for all other families, that their choice is supported and protected under the law”.  

Henriquez continued, stating: “When the Ministry rejected Widow Aldunate’s diploma, Chilean authorities undermined the fundamental prerogative of his parents to homeschool him and his siblings in the manner that they saw fit. In their case, it was a local homeschool curriculum together with a US-based accreditation program that met the needs of their family. It is the parents, not the government, who should choose what is best for their children’s education.”  

International law & educational freedom 

Both the Chilean constitution and international law protects the rights of parents to make choices concerning the education of their children.  

Article 19 of Chile’s Political Constitution of the Republic protects home education. 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”.  

“Parents are the first authority for the education of their children, and in raising our children, our desire has been to provide them with the best formation and opportunities available to us. We celebrate that the court recognized educational freedom for our family, and pray that this extends to a widespread recognition of the rights of parents with regard to their children’s education in all of Chile,” stated Felipe Widow Aldunate, father of the student at the heart of the case. 

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