The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many problems for Christians around the world, but there is one thing that Covid-19 has brought that is making Christians in China rejoice – Christian homeschooling. Homeschooling has been a big winner from Covid-19 and that is a big win for Christians in China.
It has been illegal for Chinese to home-school their children in China, but many house church believers have been doing it anyway. “We value a Christian education,” said Sarah (not her real name) during an interview in Shanghai in 2019 regarding homeschooling. “We can’t, with a good conscience, send our children to a Chinese school that demands they be taught that atheism is a fact.”
Sarah was not alone. Educated parents with considerable income and influence in Shanghai secretly joined Sarah and their children and used a Christian homeschooling curriculum from America. I was able to spend some time with them in late 2019, as we looked for ways to educate the children of Back to Jerusalem missionaries serving abroad.
China demands that all children enroll in government school and receive a compulsory education in Communism and Atheism. Back to Jerusalem has built more than 100 primary education buildings in Western China and all of them have a mandatory “moral” education room. The “moral” education room is to teach children the tenants of Communism from the age of three years old.
Sarah, and many like her, were taking a real risk by homeschooling their children. Sarah and her husband could have been forcefully separated from their children if their activities had been exposed; that was until the coronavirus hit. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, almost all parents have had to assist in online learning. Traditional schools are in disarray and not sure how to teach their curriculum online. Home-school parents, familiar with learning online, are breezing right on by.
And it is not just Chinese parents who are having a fresh start with Christian online learning. Public school attendance is at an all time low in the United States. Many parents are turning to home schooling instead. Just about three percent of American children are home schooled in a given year, but it has skyrocketed this year, tripling in number just in the beginning months of 2020 alone. “Nine percent of parents who weren’t home-schooling their children last school year said they planned to home school their children at least some of the time this school year,” reports EdWeek Research center. EdWeek goes on to report, “Fifty-eight percent in a mid-October survey listed home schooling as being a major contributor to enrollment declines caused by COVID-19—more than any other single reason, such as losing students to charter schools, private schools, or “pandemic pods” in which families band together to hire instructors who teach their children at home.”
China is not alone in banning homeschooling for Christian parents. When the Wunderlich family began homeschooling their children, 33 German police officers showed up at their door with a battering ram ready to break down the door to stop the parents from homeschooling their children. The parents cried as the children were forcefully dragged from their homes. When the Wunderlich family appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, the courts sided with the German government.
But the pandemic has changed all of that. “This is a miracle in disguise,” comes one report from Germany. The article goes on to state, “Due to COVID-19, while school has been taken “online,” many teachers are unable to provide sufficient education to their students. And the parents—who are unqualified to teach their children at home, according to the German government—have been forced to home educate due to the circumstances. Crisis or not, the current situation further proves that parents are, in fact, eligible to teach their children.”
Christian Home-schooling might be the single biggest winner of the coronavirus and has the potential to change the direction of millions of children’s lives around the world.