1. Education

A discussion (on Monday 24th October 2016) about the position of Education in an ideal society. As a starting point (we will return to specifics about education in future discussions) I hope to set my general principles and offer specifics as illustrations only. The notes here are limited and there will be more offered in the discussion itself.

You are invited to contribute (by e-mail to editor@qercus.co.uk) at any time as a member of the Politics from Scratch group or a total outsider. Your contributions may be added to this page in an edited form. Please identify yourself as group member, U3A member (say which group), as a member of a political party (say which party), or from outside the UK (say where).


Why educate people?

Who do we educate?

What is included?

Who teaches?

How is education organised?

Who pays?

Initial answers:

Our Eutopian community needs members who are capable of contributing to the community to a high standard. As our concern is both for the individuals AND the community as a whole, the alternative option of a society built on exploited members is not acceptable.

The capabilities and interests of individuals will vary as will the needs of the community. This will influence the content and length of education/training. In general those requiring the longer education will be expected to make the most critical contribution to society.

It is likely that we will expect most members of our community to make wide-ranging contributions to the future of our society, as parents, workers, politicians, good neighbours, jurors, voters. The good health of the community depends upon its members being educated beyond their expected need and be capable of responding to changing needs of the community.

Individuals need to be well-prepared for life and their education will naturally be shared by family, friends, employers, and the community, but the community needs to be prepared to step in to fill gaps in other provision.

Individuals contribute most to the well-being of their community when they are at ease with the community and themselves. Leisure activities play a large part in that ease and hence need to be included as an integral part of education.

Whilst professional educators must play a major part in education we need contributions from the wider society. Parents, specialist groups, individuals with knowledge/skills, employers, etc must all play a part in ensuring that next generations are well-prepared and that rôle needs to be one of the basic expectations that our community makes on its members. It also sets up a need for us all to be properly prepared to make that contribution.


<Curriculum - based on the 6 Rs>

All that I have mentioned relates to the well-being of society through education and it makes sense that the community as a whole pays for that education. Whilst much of education and training can be included under that umbrella there are circumstances where it makes sense for individuals or companies to pay in full or part for education. Where skills taught are wholly or mainly designed to enable a private or corporate profit then the profit-taker might be expected to contribute to the costs. Where costs are high e.g. for leisure based education that rewards the individual but not the community then the individual pays - though may still benefit from general resources available to all.

Payment should be expected from those who are not members of the community though consideration should be given to the use of education as a means of improving relationships between communities - through sharing free access or donating education as goodwill.

JC October 2016

Responses welcome from anyone to editor@qercus.co.uk with ‘Politics from Scratch - Education’ in the Subject panel.

The subject will be developed following discussion on 24th October 2016 and any subseqent e-mail input. Education will be explored in greater depth and detail in future discussions.


Human Rights

Article 26 - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

(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.

Article 2 of the First Protocol: Right to education

Students’ right to education

No one can be denied the right to education.  This encompasses a right:

  • to an effective education (that is adequate and appropriate);
  • to access to existing educational institutions;
  • to be educated in the national language; and
  • to obtain official recognition when studies have been completed.

This does not require the State to establish new types of education, rather it gives individuals a right to access educational facilities that already exist.

This does not require the State to establish new types of education, rather it gives individuals a right to access educational facilities that already exist.If a pupil is excluded from school the exclusion must be both necessary and proportionate.

The right extends to primary, secondary as well as higher education.  The right belongs to the student, who must not be denied the right to education (and not their parent).

The right to education includes a freedom to set up private schools, but this freedom is subject to regulation by the State to ensure there is a proper educational system, and does not include a right to subsidies for providing that education.

Parents’ right to respect for their convictions

Article 2 of the First Protocol also provides that the State must respect the right of parents’ religious and philosophical convictions in respect of education and teaching.  This aspect of the right is closely aligned to the right to freedom of religion in Article 9.  This right belongs to the parent rather than the student.

What constitutes a philosophical conviction (being a belief, beyond an idea or opinion) includes convictions that are worthy of respect in a democratic society, are compatible with human dignity and do not conflict with the student’s right to education.

This right does not prevent the State from setting and planning the school curriculum, but it does require the matters in the curriculum to be conveyed in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner so that parents’ different religious and philosophical convictions are respected.

When it first agreed to be bound by this Article the UK entered a reservation to it to say that it accepts the need to respect parents’ religious and philosophical convictions but that it would do so only so far as it is compatible with providing efficient instruction and training and unreasonable public expenditure was avoide

© John Cartmell 2013