Historic step forward in the realization of freedom of education in the US Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court of the United States has just proclaimed the support of the important principle of freedom of education. In the state of Montana parents will now be able to use public funds to freely choose an education in accordance with their values and their religious views.

The  Montana State Legislature –formed by the Montana State and the Montana House of representatives- approved a tax-credit program in 2015, with the objective to enable parents to choose the education of their choice despite their income.

The program helped parents of modest means do what more affluent parents can do: send their children to a school of their choice”, including religious inspired schools.  (Justice Alito, p.13)

However, the Montana’s Department of Revenue banned this proposed program arguing that it would infringe Montana’s Constitution, which restricts governments use of taxpayer money to fund activities carried out by religious groups. According to this prohibition, called the Blain Amendment, the government cannot use tax-payers money “ to aid any church, school, academy, seminary, college, university or other literary or scientific institution, controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect or denomination”.

The Amendment discriminated them choosing a faith-based school and restricted their freedom of choice. Three mothers of children of the school Stillwater Christian School raised their voices against this discrimination and sued the Montana’s Department of Revenue in the State Court for not being able to use the scholarship funds to pay the tuition of their children.

Last Monday, 30 of June 2020, Supreme Court Justice Roberts proclaimed in his final decision on this case, that “the prohibition burdens not only religious schools but also the families whose children attend them “(p.19). He brought to our memories the “enduring American tradition” to support the rights of the parents to raise their children in a religious atmosphere. The US Constitution itself protects the freedom of choice of parents of sending their children to a faith-based schools.

In the precedent judicial instance, at the Montana’s Supreme Courts, the counterpart argued that shutting down the support for religious schools by saying that this reflects the “state interest in preserving funding for public schools” (Brieg for respondents 7). However, according to Justice Alito, the parents affected by this banner are among those who support through taxes the public schools system. So, it is more than just to give them an effective alternative to Public Schools.

The substance of the matter under discussion according to Dissenting Justice Sonia Sotomayor is not about the separation of church and state, but about the realisation of freedom of choice of education. The banning of this aid in Montana’s Constitution “imposed”, in words of Chief Justice Roberts, “a heavy burden on people on faith and their ability to educate their children in that faith”. Therefore, he declared the provision as unconstitutional, violating the First Amendment, in specific the Free Exercise Clause.

This judicial sentence of the Supreme Court is a landmark to guarantee the right of education. It fulfils the positive obligation the state has to promote plurality and freedom of choice for the full realization of the right to education.

María Teresa Gerns

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

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



Integral Human Development – Transforming Our World: the Holy See and the 2030 Agenda:

Yesterday, 18 of May 2017, took place an event in the UN about the view of the Holly See of the Agenda 2030.

The event was introduced and moderated by the Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See in the UN, Archbishop Ivan Jurkoviç. Archbishop Jurkoviç recalled the message of Pope Paul VI to the General Assembly of the United Nations and the will of the Holly see to work together with the objectives of the UN. As Paul VI said “Your Charter goes further, and our message moves ahead with it.”

After the message of Archbishop Jurkoviç, there was a message from the Director General of the United Nations at Geneva. Michael Moeller underlined the timeless message of Pope Francis of “being compassionate”. He mentioned the important role of religion to face nowadays challenges, especially those of the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030. He referred the convergence of aims of the UN with the Catholic Church when it comes to target those most in need. Moeller was glad to see that Pope Francis saw the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030 as a sign of hope in a world of fragmentation and he stressed that this process involves the Catholic Church at all stages. Finally Moeller remarked the harmony between the Pope Encyclical Letter Laudatio Si’.

The third speaker was Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the UNCTAD. He emphasized that the 2030 Agenda reinforce the mission and work on the UNCTAD, especially when it mentions the importance of inclusion. New challenges have appeared the last years – Migrants, Climate Change…- and new solutions need to be found. On this regard, Kituyi mentioned the importance of public-private partnerships in multiple fields.

The biggest intervention was done by the keynote speaker Cardinal Turkson, Prefect of the Holy See Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. For Cardinal Turkson sustainable development is the best way to realize inclusive prosperity. In line with what Pope Francis has said during his intervention at the General Assembly of the UN he urged to put an end to the world poverty. This challenge is especially important considering that the widen gap between the first world and the third world. The conditions of the poorest have further deteriorated. Part of the problem as he said is the individualistic ideology of economy that is anchored on the selfishness of the human being.

These problems require a comprehensive solution, as the 17 goals and 169 targets of the 2030 agenda. The Holy See welcomes this approach and is happy to observe that this agenda is fully consistent with the recognition that all human beings have a common dignity. This idea of common dignity facilitates the comprehension of the common good, which is not an abstract collective thing, but a conception of good conceived for the needs of each individual, as well as their communities and groups. Although human beings are autonomous, we cannot forget two essential features: its dignity and that they are created for coexistence.  With the 2030 Agenda the International Community has considered this comprehensive dimension of the human being, and has decided to ground this document with solidarity instead of egoism.

On this comprehensive vision of the 2030 Agenda the role of religion cannot be neglected. This is way Cardinal Turkson stressed the important role of freedom of religion shaping the way we interact with our neighbors. Moreover, interreligious dialogue plays an essential role on this regard, and it must be a priority for the succees of the 2030 Agenda. Although, it is not only the lack of finance that is causing our problems, but the lack of peace and dialogue. Pope Francis has stressed this point multiple times.

Finally Cardinal Turkson, mentioned that in order to achieve this change of paradigm, to move beyond egoism to solidarity and to stop our indifference to the marginalized the Holly See has done some organizational changes. Pope Francis has merged four existing Pontifical Councils (Cor Unum, Justice & Peace, Migrants & Itinerant People and Health Care Workers), into the new Dicastery for Promoting integral Human Development, which is called to promote the integral development of each and all persons in the light of the Gospel.

After the intervention of Cardinal Turkson there was the response of the Panellists. Among them, Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of RED Cross, who underlined the role of peace as a cornerstone for the SDGs and stressed the importance of public –private partnerships to achieve the targets of the 2030 Agenda. Also it was interesting to hear Pasquale Lupoli, Senior Regional Adviser for the Europe and Central Asia International Organisation for Migration, who urged about not neglecting the important role of the SDG for migrants problems, a group that haven’t stopped growing in the last 30 years.

Ignasi Grau

93th Council of the OIEC:

Last week OIDEL participated in the OIEC Council in Beirut. OIEC – Catholic International Education Office. OIEC is the entity that represents Catholic Education around the world, around the 70% of non-governmental schools are catholic.

The Council of the OIEC was from Thursday 27th until Saturday 29th April. Many issues were discussed but we would like to highlight the presentation of the new OIEC representation around the International Organizations.

Additionally, OIDEL made a presentation on “Education 2030: The role of civil society”. The presentation was an occasion to present the new challenges of the international community and to show the role of Catholic Education in the implementation of the new agenda. Moreover, OIDEL took the opportunity to show how Catholic Education can improve the realization of the right to education in other UN mechanisms.

Among the events OIDEL take part we can highlight the participation of two other events. One was an audience with the President of Lebanon Michel Aoun, in the Baabda Palace. The other one was the participation on a conference on the importance of the TIC for the realization of the right to education. Conference organized by the Lebanese Catholic Education and the Ministry of Education of Lebanon.

The whole trip was a wonderful experience and we look forward that OIDEL can play an important role in this new phase of the OIEC, and we also look forward to contribute with all the regions and countries that are part of it.


Ignasi Grau

L’autonomie des écoles et la liberté d’enseignement

Beaucoup d’États ayant procédé à de profondes mutations de leur système éducatif l’ont fait dans le sens d’une plus grande responsabilisation des acteurs de l’éducation et d’une diminution des pouvoirs d’intervention de l’État central.

Cette tendance se fait d’abord au sein même de l’école publique. Le degré des décentralisations et d’octroi d’autonomie varie d’une simple orientation générale, comme en France, jusqu’à un radical transfert des pouvoirs décisionnels de l’État central vers les autorités locales et les chefs d’établissement, au Danemark ou en Finlande par exemple.

Cette décentralisation a aussi pour effet de conférer aux parents d’élèves de plus larges possibilités de choix. Quelles sont les raisons d’une telle évolution, sachant que subsiste, dans la très grande majorité des pays, une volonté farouche de contrôler la prestation éducative à un niveau national? Nous identifions quatre raisons : 1) la pression des  normes  internationales, 2) l’impératif de la qualité, 3) la question de la gouvernance et 4) l’émergence de la société civile.

1). Les dispositions des instruments internationaux relatifs au droit à l’éducation constituent sans doute un élément de réponse. Ils établissent clairement le droit des parents d’être reconnus comme les premiers responsables de l’éducation de leurs enfants ainsi que leur droit de choisir le type d’établissement scolaire en fonction de leurs options philosophiques ou religieuses, les critères ayant été heureusement étendus aux choix pédagogiques par la Charte européenne des droits fondamentaux

Cette perspective conduit nécessairement les États à adapter leur législation interne dans le sens d’une responsabilisation des acteurs de l’éducation, essentiellement ici les parents d’élèves. Les mêmes instruments internationaux, nous l’avons vu, situent clairement les objectifs de l’éducation au niveau de l’épanouissement personnel des potentialités de chaque élève.

2). Dans la plupart des pays se pose de manière brûlante la question de la qualité et de l’efficacité pédagogique et éducative de l’école. Les nouvelles technologies de l’information et de la communication, et bien d’autres facteurs ne sont que difficilement pris en compte dans l’évolution des systèmes scolaires qui peinent à  suivre le rythme

Par ailleurs, il est une autre réalité toujours davantage prise en compte aujourd’hui : la nécessité pour l’école de former des « citoyens » à part entière. Tout le monde s’accorde aujourd’hui sur le fait qu’une telle formation théorique ne peut déployer ses effets démocratiques que dans un contexte où la participation et la responsabilité personnelles sont valorisées.

L’efficacité pédagogique et éducative de l’école indépendante, tant au plan de sa capacité d’adaptation aux besoins pédagogiques nouveaux qu’à celui de l’éducation personnelle, est généralement reconnue. Sur le terrain scolaire, le secteur indépendant constitue souvent un « laboratoire » expérimental et innovateur dont profite l’école publique.

3). Outre les problèmes pédagogiques évoqués, les systèmes nationaux d’éducation se trouvent confrontés à des difficultés de gouvernance. Pour reprendre une expression célèbre en France il y a quelques années, les systèmes d’éducation publique deviennent toujours davantage des « mammouths » qu’il s’agit de dégraisser ; l’efficacité de ce régime amaigrissant passe nécessairement par une répartition plus judicieuse des responsabilités. Comme le dit M. Toulemonde dans son ouvrage Et si on tuait le mammouth paru la semaine dernière en France : «Il n’est plus temps de tenter d’agiliser le mammouth… Enterrons-le sans fleurs ni couronnes et engageons-nous dans les voies explorées non seulement par nos voisins mais en France même par l’enseignement supérieur… Donnons l’essentiel du pouvoir aux acteurs locaux par la décentralisation, la déconcentration, l’autonomie des établissements«.

4). Enfin, et c’est peut-être le facteur le plus important, cette évolution des législations éducatives s’inscrit dans le contexte du développement de la société civile. La discussion autour du bipôle classique « public-privé » tend à céder le pas à une réflexion sur la participation et la responsabilité des acteurs issus de la société civile, et ce dans tous les domaines, bien au-delà de la seule question scolaire.

Au-delà des querelles opposant les défenseurs des diverses conceptions de cette société civile et de son champ d’autonomie, on s’accorde généralement à reconnaître que cette société civile, lorsqu’elle agit dans des activités dites « publiques », ne peut être simplement comprise dans les catégories opposant ce qui relève de l’«officiel», de l’«étatique» ou du « gouvernemental » d’une part au « privé » d’autre part.

Trois principes

1. L’État n’intervient pas dans les choix pédagogiques des établissements, sinon pour veiller à la mise en place d’un cadre d’équité et de responsabilité général. Si l’on raisonne à partir du principe de subsidiarité, les parents deviennent manifestement incapables d’assurer seuls le financement de l’école.

2. Les parents et les enseignants sont considérés comme des acteurs responsables de l’enseignement. Cette « confiance » dans le citoyen est un fondement de la démocratie .Le monopole éducatif de l’État repose souvent sur une méfiance explicite ou implicite envers les parents et les enseignants, auxquels le droit – et le devoir – de participation effective aux décisions et aux responsabilités est ainsi nié.

3. Les pouvoirs publics agissent de telle manière que les établissements scolaires puissent, de manière autonome, offrir une prestation pédagogique réellement pluraliste. Ils veillent à la transparence et à la véracité de l’information fournie par les prestataires et mettent en œuvre un système de financement non discriminatoire permettant aux parents de choisir entre divers établissements scolaires.


A. Fernandez et I. Grau