Education in the Secular State: Whose Right is it?
2 Iɴᴛ’ʟ. J. Jᴜʀɪs. Fᴀᴍ. 77 (2011)
30 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2018 Last revised: 13 Jul 2018
Date Written: 2011
Education is a key issue in a juridical system, because it is an essential means of transmission of values to the next generation. The time children spend in school or, broadly, in activities linked to their education, is much greater by far than the time devoted to any other occupation. Although mass media, Internet, and social networks also have a deep influence on children, school education is still one of the major concerns of parents regarding their offspring.
Parents have the right to decide the kind of education they want for their children. Public authorities also have powers related to education, but their role is different from that of the parents. The state must foster the conditions that ensure that parents' rights are effective, but it has not any exclusive authority to decide for itself the kind of education a child will receive. In recent times, this function of the state has been affected by a general trend towards secularization in Europe. A misunderstanding of what secularization means and what it entails gave rise to some decisions that had an impact on the laws regulating education and on the development of the parents' choices with regard to education.
This paper will refer briefly to the bases for parental concerns, to the trend toward secularization, and then will analyze some of the alternatives that are available (or might be made available) to parents concerned about the educational programs presented to their children in the European context. It will also discuss some of the challenges they face.
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