Have Your Say

Assistance for responding to the Human Rights Guiding Principles for Private Education.

This is INTERNATIONAL and will affect ALL OF US.

Why this matters: the focus of these guidelines is on government, and on big edu-business. However, these guidelines once finalised, will apply to ALL private education providers including parents and micro-facilities.

At present most of the alternative education community is invisible to these players. We need to let them know that we exist, and share our unique perspectives, for the benefit of all.

They’re arguing about whether the cart is before the horse, and figuring out how to get the horse to the front. We need to point out that we have internal combustion engines and don’t want to be forced to use horses again, thanks very much ; ))

There are three things you can do:

5 Minutes:

1) Raise awareness that children must be given a say in decisions that affect us by sending an email to solomon.sacco@amnesty.org. to ask for a link to the child-friendly materials and interfaces designed to enable students of all ages to participate in the current online consultation on the Guiding Principles. Please cc soulstoneeducation@gmail.com (this is the email address of a group of young people at Riverstone Village, who are spearheading a call to action)

2) Send a copy of the Request for Special Protection pasted into an email, with your Name, City, and Country at the bottom and send to the Secretariat of the drafting committee, at educationguidingprinciples@gmail.com
Please cc soulstoneeducation@gmail.com

30-90 minutes:

3) Respond to the online survey.

To do this it will be easiest if you prepare your answers in a document, then copy and paste into the Survey Monkey. This will save you a lot of headaches. You do not have to answer every question, just the ones you want. That also goes for the questions supported here. Rather submit input on one question that matters to you, than none at all because you feel overwhelmed.

Obviously, you should answer as you see fit for every question. Your answers may be totally different to what is suggested here. This document aims to assist people who have only just found out about this opportunity (like most of us!) and are pressed for time, and the suggestions here are based on past experience of discussions within alternative education.

NB – the deadline is too tight for us to create viable interfaces for children to comment. Instead, sending the request for child-friendly materials will document the lack of these as a foundation for children to protest that child-friendly interfaces were not provided in the first place – so please be sure to cc soulstoneducation@gmail.com as it is an address belonging to a group of young people who feel strongly about this. However, if children are able to use the adult interface with or without your help, please support them in doing so.

Here is the link to the draft document and to the survey

You can compose your own answers your way. If you find this daunting given the tight deadline, here are some suggestions on some key questions you could tackle and how (apologies, we used the numbering system officially provided, we are in the process of correcting it).

Section I

Under #1 put: Self-Directed Education, Home-education, Unschooling, Family Choosing Private Education, Private, the name of your micro-facility, or the model, e.g. Sudbury, Agile, North Star etc. if you are a provider, or whatever feels right to you.

Section II

Answer numbers 1 and 2 if you have something to say, or leave these blank or write No Comment or Pass, etc.

Number 3 “In your view, what positive role can private educational operators play to improve the realisation of the right to education, and does the text leave adequate space for it? If no, please indicate the positive contributions, an example to illustrate it, and if possible how the text could address them.”

List the ways that the form of private education your family has chosen helps to realise the child’s right to education. Be as specific as you can, and if you feel these rights were not or could not be realised in a public or regular private school setting, detail the way these rights were/are generally compromised there and how your form of education supports these rights better.

Here is a list of educational ideals you may want to refer to (pick those that feel relevant). How does your chosen form of private education have a positive impact on the child’s:

“human dignity”

“special developmental needs and diverse evolving capacities”

“holistic development of the full potential of the child”

“respect for human rights of others, and respect for difference ”

“sense of identity and affiliation (belonging)”

“socialization and interaction with others”

“care for the environment”

“life skills”

“self-esteem and self-confidence”

“ development of specific talents and abilities”

 

In what way is your form of private education

“child-centred”

“child-friendly”

“empowering”

a good preparation for children to “live a full and satisfying life within society.”

You may also want to point out that your chosen form of private education also supports other children’s rights and comment on how this compares to mainstream public and private schools.

Some rights you may want to mention are:

* right to life (given school-related suicides)

* that a child shall not be separated from the child’s parents against their will

* the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child

* right to freedom of expression

* freedom of thought, conscience and religion

* rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to

provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right

* freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.

* right to privacy

* protection from attacks on their honour and reputation.

*protection from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect

or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse

* right of the mentally or physically disabled child to enjoy a full and decent life,

in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.

* highest attainable standard of health

* States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.

* the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

* right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral

or social development.

*protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances a

*protect the child against all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child’s welfare.

* No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

* No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily.

*all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Number 4 Is there any important issue or Guiding Principle that you think is missing, to address the role of private actors in education in line with human rights law? Please indicate your suggestion, and where it would fit.”

What is missing from the Guidelines is that there is no specific guideline for states dealing with home-educating families, micro-facilities and Self-Directed Education facilities. Say that this needs to be addressed in its own right as there are specific issues distinct from issues that concern mainstream private schools. Use your own words to say this. If you have ideas on what should be included in such a guideline, put your idea here. Be sure to include what you think about the potential or current impact on your child’s right to education resulting from state supervision holding you to state-determined minimum norms and standards.

Number 5 “Does the text adequately address the specific situation of vulnerable, marginalised or disadvantaged groups, including women and girls, minorities, indigenous peoples, and people living in poverty?”

The current text does not address:

the need for decolonisation,

children who don’t fit well into schooling models of education,

children who are better suited to education that is not primarily ‘academic’ (usually the majority of the class),

and the text doesn’t recognise that schools are not designed for children as children and therefore marginalise almost every child.

If your child has ‘ADHD’ or other ‘special needs’ or high sensitivity, you may want to use this section to point out that this aspect of marginalisation needs to be addressed in the text.

Number 6

Answer if you have something to say, or leave these blank or write No Comment or Pass, etc.

Number 7 “Do you see any missing requirement for the minimum standards (Guiding Principle 45) that States must regulate?”

Detail how complying with “minimum standards” relating to adult educator qualifications (e.g. if the state insists that parents have to have a teachers degree in order to home educate) could compromise your form of education. Point out that this is an instance where a different set of guidelines than those applying to mainstream private schools, is needed.

Detail how and why a state-prescribed curriculum is in itself a problem for your form of education, and how and why keeping your child to age-related graded “minimum standards” undermines their best interest and optinal education. Point out that this is another instance where a different set of guidelines than those applying to mainstream private schools, is needed.

This is also a good place to have your say about the redundancy of colonial schooling models, and the ways in which conventional ideas about ‘minimum standards’ have become problematic and undermine the child’s right to education, etc.

Number 8

Answer if you have something to say, or leave these blank or write No Comment or Pass, etc.

 

Number 9 Do you have any comment on the terminology used in the Guiding Principles, and in particular, are the terms used accurate and precise enough? Please specify the terms at stake if applicable, and specific suggestions.”

Say in your own words that the following technical terms are not accurate or precise enough.

“Private educational operators” – ask why the only time home-schooling is mentioned is in a footnote, and say that lumping together home-education, home-schooling, Self-Directed Education, micro-facilities, one-off private schools, and franchises/ multi-campus businesses confuses the issues.

“Compulsory” – specifically, that there is a difference between compelling the state and parents to provide educational resources, and compelling children to comply with “educational” activities against their will as well as compelling parents to force their children into schools against the child’s best interests. This is a good place to talk about the need for consent in education

“Education” – specifically, that there is a world of difference between education that supports “the holistic development of the full potential of the child” and education that concerns passing state-mandated tests at certain ages – and that these definitions of education can be contradictory. Ask them to be more specific about what is meant by education and point out that education and schooling are not synonymous.

“Minimum Standards” – specifically, that the ‘minimum standard’ of having graduates who are happy and healthy as children and go on to be able to live successful meaningful adult lives is generally at odds with the ‘minimum standard’ of achieving standardised academic benchmarks at specific ages.

Number 10

Answer if you have something to say, or leave these blank or write No Comment or Pass, etc.

 

Part III

Answer if you have something to say, or leave these blank or write No Comment or Pass, etc.

 

Good luck! Comment here to let us know how it goes!