Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York – How should the state regulate private and religious schooling?

In 2020, Jason Bedrick, Jay Greene and Matt Lee coedited a book entitled Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York, published by Rowman & Littlefield. The editors are three esteemed experts in the field of education policy: Jason Bedrick was, at the time, director of policy for EdChoice and an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, Jay Greene is Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and Matt Lee is Distinguished Doctoral Fellow and Senior Research Assistant in the Department of Education Reform, also at the University of Arkansas.

The book looks at public policy on education in America and explores the crucial regulatory role of the state in supervising religious education. In particular, it provides a close examination of the Yeshiva controversy, instance where the state arguably exceeded the boundaries of its regulatory role, to the detriment of parents’ right to choose a school according to their beliefs. The term “Yeshiva” designates Orthodox Jewish private schools, run by Hasidic Jewish sects.

Yeshivas were subject to criticism from a group of activists called Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED). YAFFED accused these schools of not providing an adequate secular education. Subsequently to these allegations, the New York State Education Department enforced stricter requirements that private schools must satisfy to comply with New York’s education law. The implementation of the new guidelines, which are much more difficult to meet in practice, generated a public outcry because this may effectively hinder religious liberty and education.

The Yeshiva controversy reveals the inherent tensions that underpin the relationship between religion and education. Furthermore, it stresses the importance of striking a balance between on the one hand, upholding the right of the parents to choose an education for their children in line with their religious belief and, on the other hand, preserving the right of children to receive an adequate education guaranteed by the state.

The purpose of Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York is rightly to find an intersection between right to education and religious free exercise. To that end, the book takes into consideration diverse religious perspectives and expert analysis from a broad range of professional backgrounds. In an editorial review, Yuval Levin (editor of National Affairs) insisted that finding such intersection is determinant for the future of our free societies. Hence, Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York addresses a key societal issue and may be worth the read.

Chloé Vermenouze

If you want to know more, you can buy the book in the following link:

Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York – le rôle de l’état dans la régulation des écoles privées religieuses

Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York est un ouvrage publié en 2020 par Rowman & Littlefield Publishers et co-édité par Jason Bedrick, Jay Greene et Matt Lee. Les éditeurs sont tous les trois experts dans le domaine de la politique éducative. En effet, Jason Bedrick, était au moment de la parution du livre, directeur stratégique de EdChoice et chercheur adjoint au Cato Institute. Jay Greene, quant à lui, est professeur émérite et président du département de la réforme éducative à l’Université d’Arkansas. Matt Lee est impliqué dans ce même département, en sa qualité de docteur émérite et adjoint principal à la recherche.

L’ouvrage examine les politiques éducatives américaines et s’intéresse au rôle déterminant joué par l’État dans la réglementation des écoles privées religieuses. En particulier, il traite de la polémique de Yeshiva (en anglais, « Yeshiva controversy »), instance où l’État de New York s’est vu reprocher d’avoir outrepassé les limites de son rôle de réglementation, au détriment du droit des parents de choisir une école conforme à leurs croyances.

Le terme « Yeshiva » désigne les écoles privées orthodoxes juives, gérées par des juifs hassidiques. Ces écoles ont fait l’objet de critiques émanant d’un groupe d’activistes appelés les Jeunes Défenseurs pour une Éducation Juste ou « Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED) ». YAFFED reproche aux écoles privées orthodoxes juives de ne pas offrir une éducation laïque adaptée. Suite à ces allégations, le département de l’éducation de l’État de New York a imposé des critères plus stricts que les écoles privées sont tenues de satisfaire pour se conformer à la loi sur l’éducation de l’État de New York. La mise en place de ces nouvelles directives, beaucoup plus difficiles à suivre en pratique, pourrait entraver la liberté religieuse. De fait, cela a généré une indignation générale.

La « polémique de Yeshiva » met en lumière les tensions inhérentes à la relation entre religion et éducation. De plus, cette polémique révèle l’importance de trouver un équilibre entre d’une part, maintenir le droit des parents de choisir une école pour leurs enfants conformément à leurs croyances religieuses et, d’autre part, préserver le droit de chaque enfant de recevoir une éducation suffisante garantie par l’état.

L’objectif de Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York est justement de trouver un point de rencontre entre le droit à l’éducation et la liberté religieuse. Dans cette perspective, l’ouvrage prend en compte diverses perspectives religieuses et des analyses d’experts issus de différents secteurs professionnels. Dans une revue, Yuval Levin (éditeur de National Affairs) a insisté sur le fait que trouver ce point de rencontre est capital pour le futur de nos sociétés libres. Ainsi, Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York répond à un problème de société déterminant et mérite d’être lu.

Chloé Vermenouze

Le livre peut être acheté via le lien suivant :

Farida Shaheed: New Special Rapporteur on the right to education appointed

Upon closing its 50th session this Friday (July 8th, 2022), the Human Rights Council appointed a new Special Rapporteur on the right to education: Farida Shaheed. She will be replacing Koumbou Boly Barry, former Special Rapporteur on the right to education, who had been in office since 2016. As the new mandate holder (for a maximum duration of 6 years), Farida Shaheed will have to provide recommendations to governments and other stakeholders, with the aim of guaranteeing the right of all persons to access quality education without discrimination.

As a reminder, Special Rapporteurs to the Human Rights Council are not United Nations staff members and do not receive a salary. Hence, Farida Shaheed will be serving in her personal capacity only. She was appointed through a selection process involving multiple stages. First, she submitted an online written application which was considered by a Consultative Group (composed of 5 high-level representatives serving also in their personal capacity and nominated by each of the 5 regional groups). This Consultative Group then recommended her as a potential candidate for this mandate to the President of the Human Rights Council (currently, Federico Villegas). Ultimately, the President of the Human Rights Council identified Farida Shaheed as a suitable candidate, and the Human Rights Council subsequently approved this appointment.

Farida Shaheed is a Pakistani sociologist born in 1953. She has a bachelor’s degree as well as a master’s degree in sociology, respectively from the University of Geneva (1974) and Leeds University (1975). She has been working since 1985 as Executive Director of Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre, one of Pakistan’s most prominent women’s rights organizations. Therefore, she has long been engaged in achieving gender equality and plans on continuing to make that a priority, as the New Special Rapporteur on the right to education.

This is not Farida Shaheed’s first involvement with the UN human rights system. In fact, she was already appointed Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in 2009, remaining in office until 2015. During that time, she published a report on history writing and teaching (2013), thus demonstrating a particular interest and level of expertise in children’s right to education.

Farida Shaheed later participated in the publication of Freedom Security Privacy – The Future of Childhood on the Digital World (2020), showing relevant concern with how the digital world is impacting children’s lives. Finally, she is determined to promote the rights of marginalized groups such as religious and ethnic minorities in relation to education to achieve more democratic inclusive societies. OIDEL is looking forward to engaging with her work as the new Special Rapporteur on the right to education.

Chloé Vermenouze

La Corte Suprema de EEUU publica sentencia histórica sobre la libertad de enseñanza en el caso Carson contra Makin

El 21 de junio de 2022, el Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. dio un paso más hacia el reconocimiento pleno la libertad de enseñanza. El juez Robert C. J., que redactó la sentencia, se basó en dos decisiones anteriores de la Corte Supremo de EE.UU. a favor de la elección educativa: Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. vs Comer y Espinoza vs el Departamento de Hacienda de Montana.

El caso se planteó en el estado de Maine, donde se llevó a cabo un programa destinado a ayudar a los padres que no podían pagar la matrícula de sus hijos. En 1981, el Estado de Maine añadió un nuevo requisito para que las escuelas formaran parte de este programa, excluyendo de facto a las escuelas confesionales. En la práctica, esto significó que las familias que querían enviar a sus hijos a dichas escuelas, no tenían acceso a la financiación pública de las matrículas, lo que mermó considerablemente la posibilidad de estos padres de elegir una escuela acorde con sus valores y creencias.

Posteriormente, familias interpusieron una demanda contra el Comisionado del Departamento Principal de Educación del Estado de Maine, alegando que el requisito de “no confesionalidad” violaba la Constitución de los Estados Unidos. Tanto el Tribunal de Distrito como el Tribunal de Apelación fallaron a favor del Comisario, haciendo especial hincapié en la separación de la Iglesia y el Estado. Pero el Tribunal Supremo revocó las sentencias de los tribunales inferiores e invalidó el requisito de “no confesionalidad”, declarando que violaba la Primera Enmienda de la Constitución estadounidense relativa a la libertad religiosa. Se entendió que dicha cláusula podía poner trabajar al libre ejercicio de la libertad religiosa al ponerse impedimentos a ciertas familias al momento de escoger una escuela privada confesional.

En efecto, la sentencia de Carson facilita a todos los padres, independientemente de sus ingresos, elegir la educación de sus hijos. Con esta sentencia esta libertad en Estados Unidos es menos dependiente de las rentas de las familias. El programa de ayuda a la matrícula está ahora a disposición de los padres con bajos ingresos que deseen enviar a sus hijos a escuelas religiosas privadas.

Leslie Hiner, Vicepresidenta de Asuntos Jurídicos de EdChoice (organización nacional sin ánimo de lucro que promueve la libertad de enseñanza), destacó la importancia de Carson al afirmar que esta sentencia «acabará por fin con una larga y torturada historia de acciones antiinmigrantes y antirreligiosas que han impedido a los padres elegir una escuela para sus hijos».

Dado la repercusión de la Corte Suprema de EE.UU., esta decisión tiene un impacto, al menos cultural, más allá de las fronteras estadounidenses, por lo que a nivel global el eco de esta sentencia nos acerca hacia un reconocimiento pleno del pluralismo educativo a nivel mundial.  

Chloé Vermenouze

Freedom of education brilliantly upheld by the US Supreme Court in Carson v Makin

In June 21, 2022 the US Supreme Court took a step further towards achieving freedom of education. Robert C J, giving judgment for the majority built upon two earlier decisions of the US Supreme Court in favor of educational choice: Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer and Espinoza v Montana Department of Revenue.

The case arose in the state of Maine, where a program designed to assist parents in paying tuition fees was enacted. In 1981, Maine added a new requirement for schools to be part of this program: sectarian schools were then excluded from the program. In practice, this meant that families wanting to send their children to faith-based schools, were prevented from using public tuition funding. This significantly hindered the parents’ ability to choose a school for their children, according to their values and beliefs.

Families subsequently brought a case against the commissioner of the Main Department of Education, alleging that the non-sectarian requirement violated the American Constitution. The District Court as well as the Court of Appeal held in favor of the commissioner, focusing mainly on the separation of church and state. But the Supreme Court overturned the decisions of the lower courts and invalidated the non-sectarian requirement, declaring that it violated the First Amendment of the American Constitution, particularly the Free Exercise clause. Attention was shifted to the parents’ freedom to send their children to a private faith-based school.

In effect, the ruling in Carson enables all parents, regardless of their income, to choose their children’ education. Educational choice is no longer a right enjoyed exclusively by privileged families who can afford tuition fees. The tuition assistance program is now available to parents with low incomes, wanting to send their children to private religious schools. Incidentally, this decision guards against religious discrimination.

The importance of Carson was captured by Leslie Hiner, Vice President of Legal Affairs at EdChoice (national non-profit organization encouraging state-based education choice programs), affirming this ruling “will finally put an end to a long, tortured history of anti-immigrant, anti- religious action that has hindered private school choice.” Given the reach of the US Supreme Court, this decision may resonate worldwide, towards a wider recognition of freedom of education as an essential human right.

Chloé Vermenouze

La liberté d’éducation fermement défendue par la Cour Suprême américaine dans Carson v Makin

Le 21 juin 2022, la Cour Suprême américaine a fait un pas supplémentaire vers la réalisation de la liberté d’éducation. John G. Roberts, rendant le jugement majoritaire, s’est appuyé sur deux décisions antérieures de la Cour Suprême favorable au choix à l’éducation : Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer et Espinoza v Montana Department of Revenue.

L’affaire est survenue dans l’État du Maine, dans lequel a été mis en place un programme d’aide aux parents n’ayant pas les moyens financiers de payer les frais de scolarité de leurs enfants. En 1981, l’État du Maine a ajouté un nouveau critère que les écoles doivent remplir pour faire partie du programme, ayant pour effet d’exclure les écoles religieuses ou sectaires. Les familles désireuses d’envoyer leurs enfants dans des écoles privées confessionels ne pouvaient de fait plus bénéficier du programme. Ainsi, la capacité des
parents à choisir une école pour leurs enfants conformément à leurs valeurs et leurs convictions religieuses a été considérable entravée.

Deux familles ont récemment porté plainte contre le Commissaire du Département de l’Éducation de l’État du Maine, en soutenant que la condition de « non-sectarisme » violait la Constitution américaine. Le tribunal de District et la Cour d’Appel ont statué en faveur du Commissionnaire, en insistant particulièrement sur la séparation entre l’église et l’État. Mais la Cour Suprême a cassé le jugement de la Cour d’Appel et a invalidé la condition de « non-sectarisme ». La Cour Suprême a déclaré que ce critère violait le Premier Amendement de la Constitution américaine et a mis l’accent sur la liberté des parents de scolariser leurs enfants dans une école privée religieuse.

Le jugement de la Cour Suprême permet aux parents, quel que soit leur revenu, de choisir l’éducation de leur enfant. Le choix à l’éducation n’est plus un droit réservé exclusivement aux familles privilégiées en mesure de payer des frais de scolarité. Le programme de remboursement des frais de scolarité est désormais mis à la disposition des parents à faibles revenus, désireux de scolariser leurs enfants dans des écoles privées religieuses. Par incidence, cette décision de justice empêche toute discrimination religieuse.

Leslie Hiner, Vice-Présidente des affaires légales à EdChoice (organisation à but non lucratif promouvant la liberté d’éducation) a mis en lumière l’importance de Carson,
affirmant que le jugement « va enfin mettre fin à une longue et torturée histoire d’action anti-immigration et anti-religieuse ayant empêché des parents de choisir une école privée pour leurs enfants ». Compte tenu de l’influence de la Cour Suprême américaine, ce mouvement en faveur du droit à l’éducation pourrait s’étendre au-delà des frontières américaines, vers une plus large reconnaissance de ce droit de l’Homme.

Chloé Vermenouze

Experiencia ciudadana en Colombia por el Pluralismo Educativo

Con motivo de las elecciones parlamentarias en Colombia, un grupo de ciudadanos, a título personal y como representantes de distintas organizaciones sociales, lideró una iniciativa para poner el Pluralismo Educativo -la Libertad de Educar en Colombia- como uno de los temas claves en la opinión pública y generar consensos sobre su alto valor en una democracia.

Por esta razón, un Comité de líderes, de los cuales algunos hacen parte de OIDEL, preparó un documento que permitiera a los candidatos de los diversos partidos políticos, que así lo desearan, manifestar su apoyo a esta libertad fundamental y que esta se constituyera en uno de los factores para ilustrar al votante para tomar su decisión en las urnas. Fue en el país una primera experiencia de este tipo, circunscrita específicamente al pluralismo educativo, la cual deja valiosos aprendizajes y constituye un precedente interesante que se seguirá robusteciendo en posteriores elecciones y contribuirá en diversos espacios de deliberación cívica y política.

Así nació el texto del “Compromiso por el pleno desarrollo del Derecho a la Educación, la Libertad para Educar, la Autonomía Escolar y el Pluralismo Educativo en Colombia”, que fue firmado por varios candidatos de diferentes partidos y movimientos políticos. Un documento de una sola página que, además de fundamentarse en la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos, y el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos, busca comprometer a los Senadores y Representantes a la Cámara, para defender, potenciar y desarrollar legalmente la Constitución Política de Colombia -acorde a las más exitosas experiencias internacionales- para que todos los padres de familia gocen efectivamente del derecho a “escoger el tipo de educación para sus hijos menores” y el Estado garantice en la práctica “las libertades de enseñanza, aprendizaje, investigación y cátedra”, definidas en la Carta Magna de este país latinoamericano y enunciadas en su legislación nacional.

Como algunos recordarán, el tema del derecho de los padres a educar a sus hijos se hizo mucho más visible en Colombia desde el año 2016, cuando unas directrices de la Ministra de Educación del Gobierno de ese entonces afectaba directamente la libertad de las familias y la autonomía escolar de las instituciones educativas. Disposiciones gubernamentales que ocasionaron como respuesta unas exitosas y masivas marchas ciudadanas sin precedentes, que causaron el freno de esas iniciativas estatales, así como la posterior renuncia de la Ministra. Por lo tanto, en Colombia se declaró el 10 de Agosto como el Día Nacional de la Libertad para Educar y se conmemora cada año con múltiples iniciativas ciudadanas.

La Red Familia Colombia, el Comité 10A, el Movimiento Nacional por la Familia, el Foro Nacional de la Familia y la Red Un Paso al Frente continuarán generando reflexión en Colombia e impulsando el objetivo de lograr la garantía plena del derecho a la educación y la libertad para educar en Colombia.

Álvaro José Cifuentes

Resumen – Informe UNESCO de Seguimiento de la Educación en el Mundo 2021/2

Los actores no estatales en la educación: ¿Quién elige? ¿Quién pierde?

Creado en 2002, el “Informe Resumen – Informe de Seguimiento de la Educación en el Mundo” es un informe con independencia editorial, albergado y publicado por la UNESCO. Este año el informe se focaliza en la Educación no-estatal y no da unos mensajes clave que permite una mejor comprensión del papel de los actores no estatales. Aquí te adjuntamos 10 ideas clave:

  • En todos los sectores y partes de la educación hay actores no gubernamentales implicados, y es difícil hacer una distinción nítida. Asimismo, el informe advierte que es imposible distinguir nítidamente el alcance de la “privatización”.
  • La mayoría de la ciudadanía apoya la educación pública. La naturaleza y el arraigo de las escuelas no gubernamentales es muy diverso de un país a otro. Normalmente, cuanta más desigualdad hay en un país, más apoyo hay a la escuela pública.
  • El apoyo a la educación pública se ha erosionado en países de renta baja y media. En parte debido a que el crecimiento de la educación privada ha sido una constante en los últimos diez años. El informe señala, igualmente, que el fenómeno de la privatización es un síntoma, no una causa, de la percepción de muchos padres sobre la mala calidad de ciertas escuelas públicas.
  • La educación pública no es gratuita. Esta falta de gratuidad puede deberse a cuotas suplementarias, a los costes de los libros, a una formación que a veces hay que completar con cursos adicionales. El informe advierte que los estados se deben de focalizar en que la educación sea gratuita de los 4 a los 18. Se explicita en este punto que la financiación pública para garantizar la gratuidad no debe implicar provisión estatal siempre y cuando la equidad sea garantizada, y señala Finlandia y Holanda como buenas prácticas.
  • La educación pública a menudo no es inclusiva. Esto se debe a la sectorización por barrios y por la inversión desigual a estas escuelas. Asimismo, en relación a los niños con desventajas de distintas naturalezas, el informe advierte que se deben invertir fondos extras.
  • La educación privada no sirve mejor a los pobres, y no garantiza una educación de mejor calidad. Según este informe, los principales argumentos a favor de la educación no gubernamental se sustentan en la necesidad de completar las lagunas del estado, o en la necesidad de que ciertos grupos tengan una educación adaptada a sus creencias y principios.
  • Los marcos regulatorios, de rendición de cuentas y control suelen ser escasos en los sitios donde más se requieren. En este sentido, advierte que la regulación no siempre permite solucionar los problemas, y que los actores más poderosos saben cómo saltarse estas normas.
  • Los actores no estatales son especialmente presentes en las actividades de guardería y en las formaciones de preparación a trabajos específicos (job-specific) y formaciones no relativas al mundo laboral. El informe se muestra especialmente preocupado por el alto crecimiento en el crecimiento en la formación fuera de la escuela con profesores y tutores privados. Este hecho puede provocar nuevas desigualdades educativas.
  • Los gobiernos deben concebir todas las instituciones educativas, estudiantes y profesores como parte de un mismo sistema. El informe señala que escuelas no gubernamentales, así como los padres, deben verse como aliados y no como enemigos. En este sentido, el estado debe establecer criterios de calidad iguales para los actores estatales y no estatales.

Ignasi Grau

(UPDATE) The threat against the existence of faith-based schools in Sweden continues: The UPR and the Parliament Report

As we said in a previous article in Sweden a debate on educational pluralism has taken place in the Parliament since the last elections with to ban faith-based schools. Although the debate still is ongoing certain constraints have already been approved.

This situation is shocking in a state that traditionally last years has shown an openness towards religious pluralism and educational pluralism. The international community has been surprised by this debate and therefore there have been already some reactions. Two weeks ago there was the UPR of Sweden. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. OIDEL, together with other NGOs, submitted a document pointing to the threats of the potential new legislation against human rights. In this regard, some countries raised the question of the convenience of these legislative initiatives and some recommendations were made. The most critical recommendations against the situation of Sweden were made by the Solomon Islands which pointed:

Review the proposed legislative ban on faith-based private schools” and “Recognize that the State has no legitimate authority under international law to mandatorily prescribe conventional education for all children, that individuals have the right to seek alternative forms of education, and that the prohibition and criminalisation of home education is a violation of international human rights law”.[1]

Internally, in Sweden on the 8th of January, there was the presentation of the official report produced by a Commission appointed by that was Parliament on the consequences of the new legislation on confessional schools. We can withdraw some conclusions.

One first and brief conclusion is that the report acknowledges that in any of the compared countries (Norway, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany) there is any legislation that does not allow faith schools.

The second important conclusion is that this initiative is frontally contrary to the Human Rights Obligations of Sweden. The report recalls that Sweden has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRCh) which includes the child’s right to comprehensive education as well as the right to religious and cultural identity.

The document also points that according to the European Convention of Human Rights the right to exercise their religion applies also to non-governmental schools. It remarks that “inter alia under the EU law, there is a right to establish and operate private schools. (…) it is not possible to prohibit certain natural or legal persons from being considered for approval as managers of independent preschools or schools (…). If (…) persons with a religious basis were denied consideration for approval as managers of (…) schools (…), this might run the risk of constituting discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights”. The document points how the new legislative proposals can be against obligations accepted by Sweden on the field of human rights concretely on freedom of religion and free right of establishment.

The Commission points that a way to ensure that faith-based schools are compatible with the Swedish society is by introducing a democratic condition to approve the existence of a school. The Commission says that an individual shall not be granted approval as a manager for an activity concerning education if there is a particular reason to believe that this person or persons are engaged in violence or improperly violate human rights, if they discriminate, if they engage in abusive treatment of children, if they undermine the principle of the best interest of the child or if they undermine the democratic system of government.  [2]

The main reaction after the presentation of the report is that the different legislative initiatives in this regard will not make it through the European Court. Nevertheless, the Minister of Education has said that still, this report gives a good foundation for a law to stop new religious schools.

Ignasi Grau

[1] Human Rights Council – Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review Thirty-fifth session (20–31 January 2020) Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review : Sweden, A/HRC/WG.6/35/L.9

[2] Statens Offentliga Utredningar (2019) Nya regler för skolor med konfessionell inriktning – Betänkande av Utredningen om konfessionella inslag i skolväsendet. Available at : https://www.regeringen.se/48d7d1/contentassets/29992645492d4d608d004e9fc02968f5/nya-regler-for-skolor-med-konfessionell-inriktning-sou-201964?noaccount=true

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.