A 39-year-old mother of two is demanding answers from the Ministry of Education regarding why her requests to homeschool her children keep getting turned down.
Shendor Menvarayzz said since 2018 she has been applying to the ministry seeking approval to have her eight-year-old son and five-year-old daughter homeschooled.
However, Menvarayzz told Barbados TODAY that as recently as Monday, yet another application was denied, and she has not received a reasonable explanation about why she was not granted permission.
“I applied and they just denied me permission for home schooling. At first I went and I give them a timetable and I told them my children have been assessed so their development is going well. So they tell me ‘oh it can’t work like that’ and that my time table is not good enough so I have to do over another timetable.
“And they told me I have to find a local tutor and they told me they will reconsider giving me permission. They never contacted me, they never emailed me, and each time I go they are busy. I keep going over and over from the time I first applied,” she said.
“Yesterday I went to them again with the qualifications of a tutor who has an Associate Degree, five CXCs, including English and Mathematics, and they did not even look at the document. They just give me the paper telling me I am denied. He is the third tutor that I went to them with,” she added.
She admitted that her children were not currently enrolled at any school, but have been receiving lessons in English language, mathematics, art and craft, and music from a private tutor, while she has been teaching them French, Spanish, geography, science and agriculture lessons.
“I have given them proof of my school leaving diploma in literature, I give them my certificate in tourism. I speak French, Spanish, I am an author. I wrote a poetry book. They told me I don’t qualify. So it seems you have to have a PHD in Barbados to home school your children,” she said.
Menvarayz, who said she was born in Dominica and raised in Guadeloupe, explained that her decision to keep the children at home has caused her to clash with authorities on numerous occasions.
“They send the police to me and they send the Child Care Board to me. A lot of children are being homeschooled in Canada and America and they are thriving and they are ahead. I don’t know what it is with this Government.
“I am not interested in the school system. My children are being perfectly educated. It is not a competition. The school system is a competition and it is stigmatizing children,” she said.
She explained that the children’s father was not against the decision to have them homeschooled.
The mother indicated that her son, who she said suffers from what she described as “problematic communication disorder” and daughter were both tested by specialists.
“She tested them and she said they are fine and she don’t see why they can’t go to school, but I say I applied for homeschooling and she didn’t tell me they are fine for homeschooling. According to them, my children’s development is perfect for school, but for homeschooling it is not okay.
“So I don’t understand this discrimination. But they are my children. They are not Government property. Five minutes of meeting with me cannot compare to seven, four years of school work I did with my children. From the time my son was one he can read, he can write his name,” she said.
Barbados TODAY’s efforts to get a comment on the matter from the Ministry of Education proved futile.
Last year, President of the African Heritage Foundation (AHF) Paul Rock called on the ministry to take homeschooling more seriously. In an article published in Barbados TODAY in January 2019, Rock said he was concerned that the ministry continued to treat homeschooling like public education, by asking for curricula to be developed based on a child’s age and not their level of education. He said this request was unreasonable since all children do not develop or learn at the same pace. [email protected]