Oral statement for the 2019 Social Forum

Yesterday took place the first day of the 2019 Social Forum. This forum took place on the 30th Anniversary year of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and at a time that youth has become a priority for the United Nations. OIDEL not just followed the Forum, but we are going to co-sponsor a side-event and also we have done an oral statement during the panel “Reaching those being left behind and defending the right to education”.

Below you can find our Oral Statement recalling the freedom and the cultural approach of the right to education and its importance to enhance the rights of those left behind:

The title of this panel is reaching those being left behind and defending the right to education. I want to thank all the panellists for their magnificent presentations and I, as representative of OIDEL, would like to make a few commentaries.

No-one can deny the importance of the provision approach of the right to education to reach those left behind. An increase in the budgets to have better facilities, to prepare better professionals, to have access to better materials, and to ensure that all children have access to education is crucial. Nevertheless, focusing only on the provision approach of this right would be too narrow. We are focusing here on the rights of the children, and children are not numbers. They are human beings rooted in a culture, living in a community, cohabiting with a family with a particular language and with their own convictions. It is not enough to provide a good public educational system for all. Education shall be directed to the “to the full development of the human personality (art. 13.1 ICESCR, art.26.2 UDHR)” and to ensure this human rights approach it is important that this education fully respect the cultural identity of these children as it is stated in the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity.

The world in which we live is becoming more plural and it is rapidly changing. It is becoming more and more difficult to a unique school model to acknowledge the pluralism of the world, and at the same time meet the rapidly changing needs and circumstances of this world. We have to start thinking seriously if the vertical model state school – citizen is what is in the best interest of the child, especially those in disadvantage situations. Even, the UNESCO document “Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good?” evokes the need to think of a paradigm that overcomes the notion of education as a public good. On this regard and specially in a context of privatization, as the former two special rapporteurs have said to guarantee the right to education we have to start thinking the role of the state not as the only education provider, but as the guarantor and regulator(par. 54) (SINGH, 2014)(BOLLY, 2017, par.59). We consider that two pillars are important on this context. First, focus on the importance of human rights education in order to strengthen the unity among citizens in a plural world. Second, governments not only should they be ensuring a high quality public education, but also supporting and enabling the existence of compulsory education in non-governmental schools of whatever legitimate pedagogical option to satisfy the human right to education.

On this context, we have to acknowledge a new threat. The progressive loss of the human rights perspective in the educational landscape due to new commercialisation approaches. It is clear that the entrance of for-profit actors can suppose a threat at multiple levels, including the final goal of education. On this regard, the state has to play the role of guarantor we mentioned before. Nevertheless, on this context, it is important that we do not threat all the non-state actors similarly. It would not be fair to legally treat a faith-based school in an area of conflict, as an institution owned by an investment fund in a developing area. It would not be fair to treat an NGO or a civil society organisation focused on the provision of the right to education, as an institution whose main aim is to make profit. An unfair approach to this problem not only will leave actors that are part of the solution in demining situation, but also might affect the freedom and cultural approach of the right to education by limiting the freedom of parents and communities to choose the education that they want for their children.

You can see the whole panel in the following link.

Ignasi Grau

  • Nations Unis, Rapport de la Rapporteuse Spéciale sur le Droit à l’Education, K. BOLLY (2017) Rapport de la rapporteuse spécial : Le droit à l’éducation, A/72/496, disponible sur : https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N17/303/25/PDF/N1730325.pdf?OpenElement
  • UNESCO (2015) Repenser l’éducation? UNESCO, Paris
  • SINGH, K. (2014). Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, “Privatization and the right to education”. Genève – New York: Assemblée générale – Nations Unis.

 

 

 

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A sentence of the Spanish Constitutional court recognizes that public funding of compulsory education in non-governmental schools with legitimate pedagogical options, is a constitutional duty to guarantee the freedom of approach of the right to education :

On April 10th of last year, the Spanish Constitutional Court of Spain in its judgment 31/2018 resolved a conflict on the funding of single sex schools that shed some light on the obligations of the state regarding public funding for non-governmental schools. About single sex schools the sentence mention that “the system of single-sex education is a pedagogical option which cannot be deemed as discriminatory. Therefore, it can be a part of the right of any private or non-governmental school to establish its own character”. About the particular character of a school the sentence continues saying that this ethos “can be considered to a great extent (…) the point of convergence that makes possible the exercise of the right of creation of educational institutions and the right of parents to choose the kind of education that they wish for their children, putting in connection educational supply and demand”.

Concerning the funding for these schools it says that the “public authorities shall give aid to teaching establishments which meet the requirements to be laid down by the law”. Moreover, recalling that basic education is compulsory and free by the Constitution the Court concludes that “it is incumbent upon the public authorities to promote conditions which ensure that the freedom and equality of individuals and of the groups to which they belong may be real and effective, to remove the obstacles which prevent or hinder their full enjoyment, and to facilitate the participation of all citizens in political, economic, cultural and social life”. The sentence continues “This constitutionally guaranteed free education cannot refer exclusively to the governmental or public school, denying it all private or non-governmental schools, since this would imply the compulsory nature of such a governmental education, at least at the basic level, preventing the real possibility to choose the basic education in any private centre. This would cut from the root not only the right of parents to choose a teaching centre, but also the right to create teaching centres enshrined in Article 27.6 of the Spanish Constitution (The right of individuals and legal entities to set up educational centres is recognised, provided they respect Constitutional principles). In this sense, public funding of private schools is at the service of the provision content enshrined in art. 27.4 of the Spanish Constitution (Elementary education is compulsory and free).“

From a Human Rights perspective we can celebrate this sentence for many reasons. First, because it considers the article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from a holistic perspective without dividing the freedom approach and the provision approach of the right to education. Second, and as a consequence of the first reason, because it considers the freedom approach of the right to education as something that goes beyond a mere liberty. Third, because its multiple references to international instruments such as the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the General Comment n°13 on the Right to Education.

Here you have the link to the entire sentence: https://www.boe.es/buscar/doc.php?id=BOE-A-2018-6823

Ignasi Grau

 

Debate in the Human Rights Council on privatization and the role of non-governamental schools

The Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education took place on July 26th and 27th during the 41th session of Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In this session, the Special Rapporteur’s report on the right to education and in particular on the increase of private actors’ s participation on the field of education had been discussed.

In this regard, we at OIDEL were concerned about the possible interpretation that states could face significant limitations in their relationship with schools in the private sector, in particular about the ways of funding non-governmental schools. These doubts were first communicated to the Special Rapporteur in private in order for the latter to clarify some points that could be problematic from a Human Rights perspective.

During the debate, the Special Rapporteur made a brief introduction remembering the state’s obligation to guarantee access to public, free and quality education for everyone. This aim is stated in goal number 4 of the 2030 Agenda.

Furthermore, Ms. Bally Barry showed her concerns about the increase of private actors in the field of education. In this sense, she insisted on the fact that states have to establish a framework to regulate the participation of these private actors. She also highlighted that her recommendations are inspired by the Abidjan Principles.

Even if states have to give priority to funding public education, the Special Rapporteur recalled that this obligation cannot imply the violation of the parent’s right to choose for their children other different schools from the ones offered by the state. The state has to respect this freedom and has to guarantee the right to create new non-governmental schools by civil society. The Special Rapporteur stressed the importance of this freedom in order to ensure protection of religious, philosophical and pedagogical beliefs of parents. 

After the introduction, delegations of different states intervened. Many of them thanked the Special Rapporteur for her work and they informed about the current situation of the right to education in their own countries. Also, many of them emphasized the use of public-private partnerships as a way of supporting education of children by the non-governmental institutions, in order to offer a better educational system overall.

Moreover, many delegations asked for examples of best practices on how states can form the most effective public-private partnerships while adhering to human rights principles.

After these interventions, NGO’s and members of the civil society had been given the floor. Director Ignasi Grau spoke for OIDEL and also on behalf of several other NGO’s.

In the oral statement, after thanking the Special Rapporteur for her work, OIDEL reclaimed some clarifications. In particular, OIDEL insisted on the importance of the role of non-governmental schools in order to achieve a pluralistic educational system and in order to protect the rights of minorities. Some elements of the report have to be clarified so they will not be misinterpreted as limiting the right to education and the freedom to choose. You can read the oral statement of OIDEL in this link.

The debate concluded with a summary statement of the special rapporteur. She acknowledged the important role of non-governmental and non-profit schools, especially in those places where the states do not have the resources to fulfil their obligations. In particular, Ms. Bolly Barry praised the strategies developed by countries such as France  (with institutions as “l’école sous contrat”) or Tunisia where public-private partnerships have been launched, contributing to offer higher quality education. 

It’s vitally important to underline the distinction made by the special rapporteur to close the debate. Ms. Bolly Barry clarified that, when she mentions private actors whose practices imply a threat to right to education, she exclusively refers to private mercantilists and the for-profit sector – not civil society’s schools, including religious schools. This way, the special rapporteur affirmed the importance of state support for civil society in the field of education in order to achieve the best posible realization of the right to education. 

 

Amelia Suárez Picazo

 

 

 

 

Debate sobre la privatización y el rol de las escuelas no-gubernamentales en el Consejo de Derechos Humanos

Los días 26 y 27 de junio ha tenido lugar el diálogo interactivo con la relatora especial sobre el derecho a la educación en el marco de la 41a sesión del Consejo de Derechos Humanos en Ginebra.

En dicha sesión, se ha debatido y comentado el informe escrito por la Relatora Especial sobre el derecho a la educación Ms. Bolly Barry en relación al incremento de la participación de actores privados.

En relación con el informe, en OIDEL surgieron ciertas preocupaciones sobre la posible interpretación que podría hacerse por parte de los estados, en concreto en lo relativo a las formas de financiación de las escuelas no gubernamentales. Estas dudas se manifestaron primero en privado a la Relatora Especial, con el objetivo de que ésta última aclarase durante el diálogo ciertos puntos que podrían resultar problemáticos desde una perspectiva de derechos humanos.

Durante el desarrollo de la sesión, la relatora especial ha realizado una breve introducción recordando la obligación de los estados de garantizar el acceso de todos a una educación pública, gratuita y de calidad. Dicho deber se recoge en el objetivo 4 de la Agenda 2030.

Además, Ms. Bally Borry ha mostrado su preocupación por el fuerte incremento de los actores privados en el sector educativo. En este sentido, ha insistido en la necesidad de que los estados establezcan un marco regulatorio para la actividad de los actores privados en el ámbito educativo y ha recalcado que las recomendaciones de su escrito se inspiran en los Principios de Abidján.

A pesar de insistir en que los estados deben priorizar la financiación de la educación pública, la relatora especial ha recordado que esta obligación no puede obviar el derecho de los padres a elegir centros escolares no gubernamentales para sus hijos. El estado debe respetar dicha libertad de elección, así como garantizar el derecho a crear nuevos colegios no gubernamentales por parte de la sociedad civil. La relatora ha hecho hincapié en la importancia de esta libertad sobre todo para garantizar la protección de las convicciones religiosas, pedagógicas y filosóficas de los padres. Según la relatora, existen actores privados que pueden ofrecer otras vías de educación, pero deben ser regulados por los estados para que esto no acentúe las desigualdades.

Tras su introducción, han intervenido las delegaciones de los distintos estados. Numerosos países han agradecido el trabajo realizado por la relatora y han informado sobre la actual situación del derecho a la educación en sus respectivos estados. Muchos de ellos han recalcado el uso de alianzas público-privadas en sus territorios como forma de apoyo al estado por parte del sector no-gubernamental, con el fin de ofrecer un mejor sistema educativo.

Además, son muchas las delegaciones que han solicitado a la relatora especial que exponga ejemplos de buenas prácticas de colaboración entre el estado y el sector privado.

Tras estas intervenciones, se ha dado la palabra a las ONG’s y miembros de la sociedad civil. OIDEL ha sido la primera ONG en intervenir, en nombre propio y en el de otras ONG.

En su declaración, después de agradecer a la relatora especial su trabajo, OIDEL ha solicitado que clarifique los puntos más controvertidos. En particular, OIDEL ha insistido sobre la importancia del papel de las escuelas no gubernamentales a la hora de garantizar un sistema educativo plural que refleje la diversidad cultural y proteja los derechos de las minorías. Varios elementos del informe deben esclarecerse para evitar que se interpreten erróneamente y contribuyan paradójicamente a limitar el derecho y libertad de educación. Adjuntamos la declaración oral completa de nuestro director Ignasi Grau.

La sesión ha concluido con una última intervención de la relatora especial. Ésta ha reconocido en su conclusión el importante papel que juegan las escuelas no-gubernamentales y no lucrativas, sobre todo en aquellos lugares en los que el estado no dispone de medios para cumplir con su obligación de garantizar el acceso de todos a la educación. En concreto, Ms. Bolly Barry ha alabado las estrategias desarrolladas por países como Francia (con instituciones como l’école sous contrat) o Túnez donde se han puesto en marcha alianzas público-privadas que han contribuido a ofrecer una educación de mayor calidad.

Es de vital importancia recalcar la clara distinción hecha por la relatora para cerrar el debate. Ms. Bolly Barry ha aclarado que, cuando menciona a los actores privados cuyas prácticas pueden implicar un riesgo para el derecho a la educación, se refiere exclusivamente al sector privado mercantilista con fin lucrativo y no a los colegios privados de la sociedad civil como los colegios religiosos. De esta forma, la relatora especial ha recordado la importancia de que el estado apoye a la sociedad civil en el campo de la educación con el fin de que dicha colaboración conduzca a la mejor realización posible del derecho a la educación.

Amelia Suárez Picazo

Oral statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

Yesterday in the UNOG during the 41st Human Rights Council there was held the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education. The aim of the report was to talk about the implementation of the right to education in the context of growth of private actors. OIDEL has participated in the debate with the aim to recall the important role of non-profit non-governamental actors in the realization of the right to education.

Here you have the oral statement we delivered:

 

On the behalf of 5 NGOs, we thank the Special Rapporteur for preparing her report on “The implementation of the right to education and Sustainable Development Goal 4 in the context of growth of private actors in education”. We acknowledge the importance of considering the phenomenon of privatization from a human rights perspective.
First, we welcome the report’s emphasis on the obligations placed upon states to protect and promote freedom of education, which includes, inter alia, the prior right of parents to choose an institution for their child other than the one provided by public authorities, as stated in article 26.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Second, we commend the Special Rapporteur for drawing attention to the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 throughout the report; in particular, Goal 17, which encourages public-private partnerships among other forms of funding in the field of education. Former Special Rapporteur Kishore Singh had spoken about the good practice of conciertos económicos in Spain in this regard (A/HRC/29/30). Further discussion on similar innovations that utilize such partnerships as a tool to overcome the challenges of privatization would be most welcome.
Moreover, we believe that a plural educational system must reflect diversity in order to ensure the cultural dimension of the right to education. However, the guarantee of this right depends on non-governmental schools and educators having access to public funding. Problematically, the report claims that the funding of non-governmental non-profit schools must be a time-bound measure. More still, the report has caused uncertainty regarding the obligation on states to fund non-governmental schools internationally by introducing a set of criteria for states to consider when making supportive financial commitments. It is suggested that the contributions should only be given to non-governmental entities where governmental options do not exist.
If such a view is to be taken, then the specific educational needs of minority religious and indigenous groups, who wish to pursue educational options within their specific cultural context, may be ignored. According to these criteria the State must prove that public-private partnerships is “the only effective option to advance the realization of the right to education” in order to fund private instructional educational institutions. We will appreciate clarification from the Special Rapporteur in order to secure support for non-profit educational actors, to prevent discrimination and to ensure that nobody is left behind in attaining the right to education for all.

 

Ignasi Grau

 

 

Alarms against freedom of education in Sweden:

After the elections in September 2018, there were difficulties to form a new government. Finally, in January, a new government was formed, the Social Democrats and the Green Party, along with the Liberal and Center Parties, came together to form a minority government. The agreement they created is called the “January Agreement”, which includes a proposition to no longer allow new religious schools in Sweden. It has gone so far as Social Democratic ministers, including the current Minister of Education has stated that they are going to ban all religious schools, including pre-existing schools.

The call for a ban on religious schools is based on a claim that they carry out religious oppression and are bad for the integration of the students, but this claim has no current factual basis. A commissioner is currently examining “confessional elements in the educational system”.  The goal of this report is to “propose a definition of ‘confessional elements’, examine international conventions related to confessional elements in education, and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of confessional elements to determine whether there is a need for specific requirements for owners of religious schools”. The report is due to the government by May 31, but government officials seem to have already made up their minds on banning religious schools before the report has been reviewed and without any factual reasoning. Swedish citizens are calling for their government to pause and wait for the commissioner’s report before making a final decision.

This situation is critical; if this finally happens it can bring a country that has been respectful with religious minorities and freedom of education to ban some of the fundamental freedoms. We will keep you informed.

 

Natalia Baigorri

Colloque Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. « L’éducation : un droit culturel » Repenser l’éducation au XXIème siècle ?

sorbonne_page_accueil.jpgL’UNESCO travaille actuellement sur une nouvelle version du rapport Faure intitulé « Apprendre à être » (1972) et le rapport Delors (1996) qui  a pour joli titre également : « L’éducation : un trésor est caché dedans ».  Mr le Président connaît parfaitement ces deux ouvrages en tant qu’ancien Directeur à l’UNESCO. Il a poursuivi sur cette intéressante lancée en coordonnant la publication en 2015 de l’ouvrage « Repenser l’éducation ». Il était en effet important d’actualiser la réflexion sur la conceptualisation dans un monde en pleine évolution, diversifié et interconnecté. Georges Haddad affirme l’idée de façon très claire que l’éducation est non seulement un bien public mais encore et surtout un bien commun, qui profite à tous.

La crise du système éducatif ne viendrait-elle pas en effet d’une mauvaise conception de l’éducation ou bien du fait que l’éducation telle qu’elle est conçue et pratiquée ne prendrait pas suffisamment en compte la part culturelle de tout individu ? Il existerait une tendance à concevoir l’enfant comme un être isolé, un individu dont on néglige toute la partie relationnelle de la personne humaine et le détachant de son histoire, de la communauté dans laquelle il est né et a grandi et le monde dans lequel il va être partie prenante ensuite. Or, l’être humain doit être vu dans sa globalité.

Ne nous y trompons pas, regardons l’essentiel.  Comme le disait Kant, « L’éducation est le problème le plus grand et le plus ardu qui nous puisse être proposé. » (Kant , E. 1919, p.46). Lorsque nous parlons d’éducation, nous sommes dans les domaines des droits à être quelqu’un, dans le domaine de l’identité et non seulement des droits à posséder des biens culturels. C’est pour cette raison que Faure (1972)  et Delors (1996) insistent sur l’éducation comme « apprendre à être ».

Le sujet, chaque être humain, n’est pas une identité isolée, une île, il construit son identité par la culture, mode d’être de l’homme. L’être humain, sujet relationnel, « solitaire et solidaire » (Victor Hugo), est un « dedans qui a besoin du dehors » (E. Mounier). Pour cette raison, il faut garantir « à tous les citoyens un accès égal au contexte culturel, aux rapports interpersonnels et aux traditions, dans la mesure où ils sont nécessaires pour leur développement et renforcement de l’identité personnelle » (J. Habermas, 2013).

Dans les locaux de cette magnifique Université de Paris 1 Panthéon – Sorbonne, nous souhaitons réunir un groupe d’experts venant de différents horizons, pour réfléchir ensemble sur la façon dont l’éducation en tant que droit culturel doit s’articuler au sein de sociétés démocratiques et respectueuses des droits de l’homme.