Human rights complaint vs BC Ministry of Education seeks equal funding for parent-directed learning

MEDIA RELEASE – for immediate release – 372 words

Human rights complaint seeks equal funding to families for parent-directed learning

Burnaby, BC – August 20, 2020 – Dhahan Law filed a complaint yesterday with the BC Human Rights Tribunal against the BC Ministry of Education on behalf of parents and students.  The complaint seeks equal funding for parent-directed learning. The goal is to address education equity issues by eliminating long-standing financial barriers to accessing parent-directed education programs permitted under the BC School Act.

The complaint states that the omission of equal funding for parent-directed learning also violates international human rights agreements and Charter rights as it harms and discriminates against vulnerable minorities, especially single mothers and their children, and those with disabilities. Two complaints were initiated last October prior to COVID-19 by HW, a single mother, against the discriminatory omission of equal funding. The BC Human Rights Tribunal has not responded, so both complaints have now been submitted as class complaints. Due to concerns over COVID-19, in March the Ministry of Education made home-based learning mandatory for most students forcing a dramatic increase in family responsibilities for education.
The complaints list discrimination based on sex, family status, marital status, religion, and gender expression. It is mostly women in their historically dis-valued feminine expression who do the unwaged education service work parent-directed learning requires.

Jordana Dhahan, the lawyer filing  the complaint and mother of two, states, “On-going and unpredictable COVID-19 changes to education pose risks to the learning and well-being of many students and their families as screen time in excess of recommended maximums is required, along with reduced in-class time, social distancing measures, and risks of contagion.”

HW, a single mother doing parent-directed learning, states, “Better-off families have always had far more access to educational opportunities outside of school attendance. Without equal funding, less-privileged families face significant barriers to and undue hardship in providing education themselves and accessing tutors, programs, field trips, the arts, technology, and supplies. Now with COVID-19, many families are struggling with dramatically increased parental responsibilities without any funding.”

Additionally, recent cuts to existing distributed learning programs have exacerbated barriers to accessing learning options.  

Since 1989, the BC School Act ensures that parents may define their children’s education program, making parents equal in standing to school boards and the Minister. However, the omission of an option for equal funding makes substantial equality an illusion for many.

A Facebook group in support has been set up: BC Education Equality.               

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Contact: Jordana Dhahan: 778-929-9976, jordana@dhahanlaw.com

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