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 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
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
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
But the law doesn't say what punishment will be given to those who ignore the
"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.
(China Daily 09/20/2006 page3)