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





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

The importance of the cultural approach for quality of education for indigenous people

The UN 2030 Agenda includes a Goal for Sustainable Development aimed at ensuring “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. This Goal encompasses several dimensions of the Right to Education and one of its targets, Gender Equality and Inclusion, explicitly refers to indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations who, despite significant progress, are still denied access to education.

As for Indigenous peoples, policies for inclusive and equitable quality education should not merely focus on educational performance indicators such as attendance and literacy but they should also include concerns about indigenous cultures, languages and traditions, as well as integrating approaches and principles associated with indigenous communities into policymaking and school reforms. In this way, education would enhance Indigenous students’ personal and professional development and foster their integration into schools and societies, with due regard to their worldviews and cultural identity.

One of the key notions to achieve this is well-being, a multi-layered condition that encompasses several dimensions (cognitive, psychological, physical and social inter alia). The attainment of integral well-being stems from a holistic approach that considers the human being as a whole. This is why it figured among the guiding principles of a collaborative project that Alberta Education started with OECD in 2015 to improve learning outcomes for Indigenous students. The study involved schools from Canada, New Zealand and Australia and the results are illustrated in the OECD report Promising Practices in Supporting Success for Indigenous Students. In Canada, Indigenous students can choose between on reserve and off reserve schools, with the latter being either private or public. Off reserve private schools can be fully funded, partially funded or receive no public funding at all, depending on the jurisdiction, while public funding for on reserve schools comes from the Federal Government. In Australia, the Government has special responsibilities as for Indigenous students’ and migrants’ education, whereas in New Zealand the largest share of management responsibilities is entrusted to schools.

Although there are no dramatic differences between the well-being of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, the results of the study still give rise to concerns. Data show that Indigenous students generally present lower levels of confidence, weaker cultural identity and worse self-esteem. This may lead to decreased motivation, earlier school leave, worse school performance and, on the long term, exacerbated socio-economic inequalities. Tackling this problem is possible by understanding indigenous culture, language and identity as integral components of students’ well-being and by including the latter in educational policies. One of the best ways to increase Indigenous students’ well-being, and thereby school performance, is to promote their engagement. Feeling safe, well liked, integrated, and happy at school is the sine qua non for personal and educational development. To achieve this, it is crucial to incorporate indigenous values and approaches within the framework of each school.

The study aimed at identifying promising strategies to ensure better learning outcomes for Indigenous students. Some successful policies include increasing the visibility of indigenous cultures in schools, e.g. by decorating classrooms with indigenous symbols or by adopting indigenous cultural practises, as a school in Alberta did, where eagle-feather rituals were included in students’ graduation ceremonies. Moreover, it is desirable to increase the visibility of Indigenous people who play leadership roles within school and to actively involve Indigenous families and communities. As far as learning materials are concerned, one strategy is to include indigenous history, science and philosophy in the curricula and to use books and other resources developed by Indigenous people. Given the difficulties faced by many Indigenous students, some schools decided to provide a room dedicated for them, a “safe space” where to support and assistance, yet making sure that this does not evolve into a form of segregation. Providing learning opportunities in Indigenous languages turned out to be beneficial too, especially during the first years of education, when the student might feel the most vulnerable and alienated.

OECD report Doing Better for Children (2009) warns against deficit thinking in relation to education, namely the idea that Indigenous students lack of fundamental skills and assume that the main target is to rectify their shortcomings. A focus on disparities and deficiencies is surely necessary; however teaching should also build on those strengths and resources that children have already acquired in their everyday life. In this respect, the study highlighted that Indigenous students in Canada are more likely to be assessed with learning difficulties than non-Indigenous students. If provided with targeted support, the results can be stunning, while if they face lower expectations, their performance is seriously compromised.

Despite their heterogeneity, Indigenous students all face similar difficulties. I order to fulfil their right to education, it is essential to identify common challenges and build policies on resources that they all share, providing them with promising learning opportunities and better chances for the future. Societies must acknowledge the value that Indigenous communities represent in terms of pluralism and reciprocal cultural enrichment; similarly, educational systems should bear in mind that Indigenous peoples often have their own aspirations and definitions of success, thus the role of schools should be to provide children with the opportunity to realise their own ambitions and dreams, in accordance with their identity and their socio-cultural background.


Cecilia Litta Modignani

Escuela y religión: La necesidad de un enfoque de derechos humanos

Son recurrentes en varios países, sobre todo del sur de Europa, los debates relativos al lugar que debe ocupar la religión en la enseñanza obligatoria. Estos debates afectan a distintas realidades de la educación: la existencia de símbolos, la existencia de la asignatura de religión y su evaluación, la existencia de escuelas con carácter confesional…

Es importante enmarcar este debate dentro de un enfoque de derechos, puesto que la educación es en primer lugar un derecho humano. En este sentido es importe recordar que la educación tiene como objeto principal “el pleno desarrollo de la personalidad humana y el fortalecimiento del respeto a los derechos humanos” (art.26.2 DUDH). La misma declaración de derechos humanos advierte que “los padres tendrán derecho preferente a escoger el tipo de educación que habrá de darse a sus hijos” (art.26.3 DUDH).

En el Pacto Internacional de Derechos económicos, sociales y culturales repite el objeto de la educación. No obstante, en lo relativo al respeto a la libertad de los padres de escoger para sus hijos escuelas distintas de las creadas por las autoridades públicas se enmarca en un contexto de salvaguarda de “la educación religiosa o moral que esté de acuerdo” con las convicciones de los padres (13.4 PIDESC).

Hay que preguntarse cuál es el espacio del hecho religioso teniendo en cuenta el objeto principal de la educación: el pleno desarrollo de la personalidad humana. Igualmente, Kant ya advirtió que el objeto principal de la educación debe consistir en “aprender a ser”. En esta misma línea, el informe Faure y el informe Delors subrayaron la importancia de “Aprender a ser” como una competencia imprescindible.

El desarrollo de la personalidad y de saber quiénes somos exige unaconcepción del ser humano como seres abiertos. El ser humano no es una identidad aislada, sino que construye su identidad a través de la cultura. El ser humano es un ser relacional, “solidario y solitario” como diría Victor Hugo, un “adentro que necesita un afuera” que diría Mounier. Es por esto por lo que la educación debe permitir a todos los ciudadanos tener acceso a los contextos culturales, relaciones, interpersonales y tradiciones necesarios para desarrollar y fortalecer su identidad personal (J. Habermass, 2013).

La comunidad internacional ha asumido la educación como bien cultural en la Declaración Universal de la Diversidad Cultural “toda persona tiene derecho a una educación y una formación de calidad que respeten plenamente su identidad cultural (art.5)”. Asimismo, el Comité de Derechos Económicos Sociales y Culturales ha señalado que la educación debe ser adaptable “La educación ha de tener la flexibilidad necesaria para adaptarse a las necesidades de sociedades y comunidades en transformación y responder a las necesidades de los alumnos en contextos culturales y sociales variados.(Observación General número 13)”.

Desde una perspectiva de derechos humanos no podemos afirmar que el fin último de la educación sea la futura empleabilidad de los estudiantes, ni el servicio fiel al estado. El fin último de la educación desde una perspectiva de derechos humanos es el libre desarrollo de la personalidad del ser humano. Y el ser humano no es uno, ni los contextos culturales en los que las personas se desarrollan son los mismos. El derecho a la educación concebida para seres humanos relacionales y con identidad exige reenmarcar el debate sobre la religión como elemento cultural en las aulas de un modo distinto. La pregunta no debería ser si debe o no tener espacio en las aulas, sino cómo debe tenerlo y, como espacio, si debe ser distinto dependiendo de los contextos culturales del alumno.


Ignasi Grau

03/07/2018 Evento paralelo: Privatización, las escuelas de la sociedad civil y los derechos humanos

El pasado martes 3 de Julio, OIDEL junto con la Misión Permanente de Portugal, organizaron un evento paralelo en el marco del Consejo de derechos humanos. El tema tratado fue la Privatización, las escuelas de la sociedad civil y los derechos humanos.

Ignasi Grau, de OIDEL introdujo la discusión cuestionando el significado a veces reductor de la privatización e hizo especial hincapié en cómo la sociedad civil, tal y como la comunidad internacional ha subrayado, debe participar en todas las etapas de planificación y monitoreo del derecho a la educación. La educación para todos significa garantizar ofertas educativas alternativas y garantizar este derecho en todos los lugares.

Estas obligaciones del Estado también implican respetar los derechos de los padres a decidir la educación de sus hijos. Uno de los principales desafíos para hacer frente el fenómeno de la privatización se debe a la simplificación de definiciones, actores y situaciones. La presentación de Ignasi Grau fue un resumen de un Working Paper presentado por OIDEL sobre la privatización.

Louis-Marie Piron, Encargado de relaciones internacionales del Secretariado de la Enseñanza Católica en Francia, expuso el papel de la educación católica en Francia y más allá de sus fronteras. El paisaje educativo francés se explica por la situación de post-guerra. Después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, Francia creó una situación contractual con las escuelas católicas para asegurar el acceso a la educación nacional de todos los niños, lo cual era imposible de garantizar solo con escuelas públicas. El contrato con las escuelas católicas implicaba la obligación de aceptar a todos los estudiantes. Parte del trato fue que el Estado pagaba las tarifas, ya que este sistema proporcionaba un servicio público. En este sentido Louis-Marie Piron recordó que es importante tener en cuenta que cada sistema privado o público tiene un contexto e historia específicos. El papel de la educación católica no es convertir a las personas, sino hacer que nuestra sociedad sea más humana.

Una escuela que cumpla con el derecho a la educación puede tener una visión  de la educación como bien de consumo o como derecho humano. Medir si los padres pueden pagar las tarifas es un punto importante para ver si estas escuelas se adecúan al enfoque de derechos.

Posteriormente, Maria Smirnova, investigadora de la Universidad de Manchester explicó 3 ideas que se han de tener en cuenta para afrontar la privatización de la educación desde una perspectiva de derechos humanos:  las  escuelas privadas deben adaptarse a las garantías marco de los instrumentos internacionales sobre el derecho a la educación; las escuelas privadas deben estar plenamente acreditadas de acuerdo con la legislación interna; y finalmente deberían tener derecho a reclamar fondos públicos.

Maria Smirnova señaló el proceso de elaboración de los principios sobre la privatización como un proceso para aclarar el rol de los estados. En este sentido señaló que este proceso debe ser imparcial e involucrar los intereses de todos involucrando la participación de las escuelas privadas.

Por último, Delphine Dorsi de Right to Education Initiative finalizó el evento comentando el proceso de elaboración de los Principios orientadores de los derechos humanos sobre las obligaciones del estado con respecto a las escuelas privadas. En este sentido subrayo dos dimensiones del derecho a la educación: igualdad y libertad en los derechos humanos. El desafío se trata de encontrar el equilibrio correcto entre los dos, concepto importante para la pluralidad en la educación.


Inmaculada Ruíz


The 12th of March OIDEL participated in a seminar entitled “The importance of pluralism in a national school system”.

Sweden has elections the 9th of September of this year. In this context many parties have started to heat the electoral campaign. On this regard the Social democrats have announced a few weeks ago as an electoral promise that they will ban all religious schools in Europe to tackle radicalization. Many newspapers and different stakeholders of the educational domain have reacted critically to this promise.

For better or worse, educational freedom seem that is going to be one of the main issues in the next Swedish elections. In order to have some international and human rights perspective to this debate Christian Schools organize a seminar at the Swedish Parliament sponsored by the Christian Democrat Party.

OIDEL was invited and we presented the new Freedom of Education Index, which consists of a Comparative Approach of the Freedom of Education Index. The aim of the presentation of OIDEL was to show that freedom of education was an essential part of the right to education as we can observe in the article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or in the article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Also, we shared a part of the research of the Freedom of Education Index, to show that freedom of education does not have any effect on the social cohesion or the quality of an educational system. On this regard, we can point that the success of a freedom of education is a matter of political will.

Per Kristensen of ECNAIS presented the importance of freedom of education to ensure pluralism. Then there were two different presentations explaining the Swedish situation in a more global context done by Sven Magnusson and Lars Brandström. The event finished with a song sang by the member of the Parliament: Roland Utbult.

Ignasi Grau



Quel thème pour la 4ème phase du Programme mondial d’éducation aux droits de l’homme?


L’OIDEL, qui préside le groupe d’ONGs pour l’éducation et la formation aux droits de l’homme a organisé mardi dernier un événement parallèle, dans le cadre de la 37ème session du Conseil des droits de l’homme, sur le thème de la 4ème phase du Programme mondial, qui débutera en 2020. 

Près de 80 personnes dont 19 représentants de Missions permanentes sont venus écouter les présentations riches et intéressantes des panélistes, parmi lesquels : H.E. Maurizio Enrico Serra, Ambassadeur de l’Italie, représentant ici la plateforme d’Etats sur l’éducation et la formation aux droits de l’homme ainsi que Mr Abdulaziz Almuzaini, Directeur du Bureau de Liasion de l’UNESCO à Genève, tous deux co-sponsors de l’événement. Ont suivi les interventions de Johan Olhagen du Haut-Commissariat ainsi que celle de Lydia Ruprecht, chef de la section de l’éducation à la citoyenneté mondiale et à la paix de l’UNESCO, puis celle de Charline Thiéry, de la Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme de la France et enfin celle de Patrice Meyer-Bisch, Directeur de l’Observatoire de la diversité et des droits culturels.

Le Bureau du Haut-Commissariat va envoyer très prochainement un questionnaire aux gouvernements des Etats membres ainsi qu’aux Institutions Internationales des Droits de l’Homme dans le but de recueillir leurs priorités pour cette quatrième phase et leurs suggestions de thématiques ou de secteurs. Le Groupe de Travail avait à cœur de réunir, à ce moment particulièrement propice, toutes les parties prenantes. L’OIDEL a pour sa part soumis au Conseil une déclaration écrite suggérant une approche culturelle transversale qui, à travers la prise en compte de la diversité culturelle, renforce l’universalité des droits de l’homme. Une perspective particulièrement intéressante pour assurer la mise en œuvre de l’éducation aux droits de l’homme.

Claire de Lavernette, Présidente du Groupe des ONGs sur l’éducation et la formation aux droits de l’homme







Radicalización: testimonios y respuestas

Cerca de cien personas: miembros de Misiones diplomáticas y ONG participaron el  10 de julio en el Palacio de las Naciones (Ginebra) el Coloquio Internacional “Radicalización: testimonios y respuestas”, organizado por OIDEL, el Collège Universitaire Henry Dunant (CUHD), el Institute Supérieur des Religions et de la Laïcité (ISERL), y varias universidades.  El objetivo de este coloquio era contribuir a la reflexión sobre el fenómeno de la radicalización: concepto, causas y desafíos.

La primera mesa redonda fué introducida por Jean Paul Willaime, de la École Practique des Hautes Etudes en Paris. En su intervención, titulada Las religiones: una cuestión de las sociedades actuales señaló la evolución histórica del modo de ser religioso y  planteó la idea de una “laicidad positiva e inclusiva”, consistente en introducir a las religiones en la dinámica asociativa de la sociedad civil, reconociendo sus aportaciones a la vida colectiva. A continuación  intervinieron  Naouel Abdellatif Mami, vicerrectora de la Universidad de Sétif 2 (Argelia) que  insistió sobre la necesidad de diferenciar entre religión y cultura, sobre todo cuando a menudo la práctica cultural es más importante que la práctica religiosa. La laicidad inclusiva – añadió –  debe estar dirigida a todas las religiones y creencias y estar acompañada de una educación de democracia.

Jean Pierre Chantin, investigador del  ISERL, indicó  que, aunque a menudo se asocie el radicalismo al Islam, éste es un fenómeno que no necesariamente ha de ser religioso, sino que se ha  manifestado en otros ámbitos como  la política e insistió en el papel los media y las redas sociales. Un paso más allá fue el moderador, Philippe Martin, director del ISERL, habló de la“radicalización” como “la voluntad de vivir un absoluto en ruptura con la familia y el entorno, con la idea de que existe una diferencia fundamental entre uno mismo y el resto de la sociedad”; tras lo cual señalo la necesidad  de establecer lugares en las que la tensiones puedan resolverse mediante el diálogo.

Por último  Ana María Vega, directora de la Cátedra UNESCO de la Universidad de La Rioja, apeló a la responsabilidad de la clase política, medios de comunicación y autoridades religiosas. Además, destacó la necesidad “de hacer contemporáneas las religiones” y de lograr una apropiación cultural de valores universales, la cual se obtiene –señaló- de la “abdicación social de determinadas intolerancias que la sociedad no se puede permitir”.

Introdujo la segunda mesa redonda el profesor de la Universidad de Toulouse, Pascal Marchand, con una intervención  sobre “El lenguaje de la radicalización” :Explicó la importancia de los términos “individuo, interacción, identidad e ideología” en la génesis de la radicalización. En esta conferencia intervinieron a continuación Michele Brunelli, Profesor de la Universidad de Bérgamo; Emmanuel Kabengele, Profesor de la Universidad de Ginebra y  Alfred Fernández, Director de OIDEL. Este último señaló que la violencia surge siempre de la humillación y del hecho de que siempre hay grupos en la sociedad que se sienten humillados por el hecho de ser diferentes, por lo que apeló al “derecho a poder diferenciarse” en las sociedades democráticas.

Durante el coloquio se proyectó el documental “La Chambre Vide” 2016), que fue presentado por su directora, Jasna Krajinovic. Este documental trata sobre la radicalización islamista de jóvenes en Bélgica. La directora de la Fundación Pluralismo y Convivencia Rocío Lopez participó igualmente en el coloquio.

Iñigo Martinez Elósegui

radicalisation 1