Our Human Right to Education

Imagine a world in which all humans had the right to free, quality, lifelong education that develops our personalities to their fullest potential and promotes human rights and freedom.

Education is the foundation of us as individuals and society. What we learn, do and practice colors our experiences, relationships, communities and cultures.

I am a teacher and a mother. My daughter is just 2 and a half now, but soon enough she will be “school-aged.” I want her to make decisions about her own learning, so I will most likely wait until she’s six or seven before sending her to school, and then only if she wants to go.

I myself went through the Texas public school system and came out alright, but as an alumni and a former teacher in that system, I would not consider putting my daughter in public school in the US. (And here in Guatemala, the public school system is way worse.)

Even most private schools seem unappealing to me as a parent. I don’t want my kid confined to a classroom all day and conditioned to be a sheep. Although we live in rural Guatemala, there happens to be a Waldorf school in the nearby village. I could send her there to start. I might.

And yet there are other options…

I am excited about a new initiative I’m undertaking beginning in September. I’ll be teaching English/Language arts to a small group of four 5th graders here in my neighborhood. Two hours a day, four days a week. Mindfulness, reading, writing, literature. It should be fabulous.

My hope is that with time, we can expand this project and create a little home-school of sorts for children of various ages who live in this area and whose families are seeking a different form and paradigm of learning. We shall see…

I’ll leave you with some inspiring excerpts on education from The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

 Article 26

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

(4) No one may be compelled to belong to an association

(a) Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all;

(b) Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;

(c) Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;

(d) Fundamental education shall be encouraged or intensified as far as possible for those persons who have not received or completed the whole period of their primary education;

(e) The development of a system of schools at all levels shall be actively pursued, an adequate fellowship system shall be established, and the material conditions of teaching staff shall be continuously improved.

(5) The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.

(6) No part of this article shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principles set forth in paragraph I of this article and to the requirement that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.

Article 29

1. Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

(a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;

(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;

(c) The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;

(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;

(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.

2. No part of the present article or article 28 shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principle set forth in paragraph 1 of the present article and to the requirements that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s