“1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all”
– United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
Can a right be compulsory?
Doesn’t it undermine the whole idea of a right if you don’t actually get a choice in it?
“Education: free and compulsory – what a way to learn logic!”
– Frank van Dun
“All children have a right to an education!” we nobly exclaim. It sounds good at first. I believed it. Yes! All children should get an education! Right? And then you tag on the word compulsory… now the meaning kind of changes…
All children have the right to an education, which they cannot refuse.
All children have the right to 10-13 years of their time spent in ways other people deem important, which they cannot refuse.
All children have the right to learn a curriculum that is not based on their individual interests, which they cannot refuse.
All children have the right to be tested and evaluated and compared to their peers, which they cannot refuse.
All children have the right to be graded and labeled, which they cannot refuse.
All children have the right to have their freedom and autonomy restricted, which they cannot refuse.
All children have the right to be coerced into doing and thinking what teachers say they should do and think, which they cannot refuse.
All children have the right to socialise only with people of their age, which they cannot refuse.
And then they have the nerve to talk as if school is some kind of fabulous opportunity? Something that no one in their right mind would turn down. Something that you should be grateful for! What a perfect example of childism.
What makes something an opportunity is that you can choose whether to accept it or not, otherwise it’s just another expectation.
School is not an opportunity, or a right, it’s a mandatory sentence. If we really respected children, we would not enforce their ‘right’ to an education, but the right to educational choice.
“The mere fact that most school attendance is compulsory reflects an attitude of mistrust of children and their desire to make sense of the world. In fact, if governments were really serious about their professed goal of developing, nurturing, and enhancing the intellectual and moral autonomy of the young, would they not have to abolish compulsory, externally imposed education?”
– Wendy Priesnitz