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Parents Are Responsible for Education, Says HEF Director

Media Release – Parents Are Responsible for Education, Says HEF National Director

November 1, 2012

Palmerston North, NZ – Barbara Smith, National Director of the Home Education Foundation (HEF) of New Zealand says that the new Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill will interfere in parental rights and responsibilities. The bill, which is now being considered by a Select Committee, is open for public online submissions until midnight tonight.

“Social obligations under the bill will make preschool, Well Child checks, and registration with a GP compulsory for all children of beneficiaries,” Mrs Smith says. “This is very serious because only parents have the right to make choices about health and education for their children. This right is backed up by several major international human rights treaties and our own Care of Children Act.”

But the issue isn’t just an academic question for Mrs Smith, who was widowed unexpectedly last year.

“I am a widow with eight children, the youngest of which has just turned 7,” Mrs Smith explains. “I am not on the widow’s benefit. My five older children are supporting me and my younger children.”

Mrs Smith says that this was not an easy decision to make. “After taxes, families and churches find it very difficult to look after the widows and fatherless. I have had people telling me that I am crazy not to take the widow’s benefit because, having paid my taxes, I am entitled to it.”

Nevertheless, Mrs Smith is convinced that she is not entitled to government help. “Historically the Church looked after widows and the fatherless. The Apostle Paul in his first letter to Timothy says that families should care for their own relations and that widows with no family support should be cared for by their church.”

But not all needy families have the support of friends and relations who will provide for them in times of hardship. “The government took on this role and now, because people are so used to paying compulsory taxes rather than giving free charity to their neighbours, the government needs to be very careful how it pulls out of supporting the needy.

“There are many families on the benefit for various reasons, who must rely on the government because nobody else is helping in this area right now.

“But they do not believe that getting government support means the government can tell them to make choices that would injure their children.”

Mrs Smith says she has spoken to hundreds of home educating parents who are concerned about the social obligations in the bill. “They want to continue home educating all their children, including the preschoolers, and they don’t want to be forced to send those children to schools because they understand that it is their responsibility to teach their children.”

This is not a responsibility that parents take lightly, says Mrs Smith. “Every parent has a sacred trust to teach and educate his children,” she says. “Scripture tells us that parents have been entrusted with their children to educate them, protect them, train them up, and prepare them for adulthood. Parents who do this are not abusing the government system – they are working at training up responsible adults.

“You might say that this is a lifestyle choice but we do not understand it as such. Many parents are grateful that the government provides schools and ECE for those parents who want to send their children to them. But parents still have the responsibility to decide what kind of education their child will receive, and where. The government must not take this responsibility away.

“Good parents know that they are morally responsible for their children. Don’t make them choose between the right thing and the legal thing. Don’t make them outlaws.”

Mrs Smith encourages all concerned Kiwis to make a submission to the Select Committee before submissions close at midnight (for online submissions) and at 5 pm (for mailed and delivered submissions) this evening, 1st November 2012. Materials for writing a submission can be found at

About the Home Education Foundation

The Home Education Foundation has been informing parents for 27 years about the fantastic opportunity to de-institutionalise our sons and daughters and to embrace the spiritual, intellectual and academic freedom that is ours for the taking. Through conferences, journals, newsletters and all kinds of personal communications, we explain the vision of handcrafting each child into a unique individual, complete with virtuous character, a hunger for service to others, academic acumen and a strong work ethic. For more information, please visit or more specifically


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