Parents have a right to choose a specific kind of education for their children. This right was not given to them by any legislating body or human authority but by the word of God (Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:7). However the right is supported by multiple human rights instruments under international law.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Article 26 (3) – “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1976) Article 10 (1) and 13 (3)3— “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 au-
thorities, 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.”
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976) Article 18 (4)4 – “The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.”
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000) Article 14 (3)3 – “The freedom to found educational establishments with due respect for democratic principles and the right of parents to ensure the education and teaching of their children in conformity with their religious, philosophical and pedagogical
convictions shall be respected, in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of such freedom and right.”
European Convention on Human Rights (1952) Protocol 1, Article 2 – “No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own
religious and philosophical convictions.”
American Convention on Human Rights (1969), Article 12 (4) – “Parents or guardians, as the case may be, have the right to provide for the religious and moral education of their children or wards that is in accord with their own convictions.” Article 13 (4) – “In conformity with the domestic legislation of the States Par-
ties, parents should have the right to select the type of education to be given to their children, provided that it conforms to the principles set forth above.”
This Bill violates a parent’s right to choose where and how their child is to be educated; a right protected in the Care of Children Act 2004 (Clause 16(2)(d)), and in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Standards (E/C.12/1999/10, Article 13.29).
Furthermore, the Education Act does not require any children under 6-years old to attend an early childhood education centre. The Act nowhere discriminates against children of beneficiaries. Bennett’s Bill ignores the Education Act and coerces beneficiary parents to enroll their children.
The right of parents to choose what kind of education their children receive is thus well-attested as a fundamental human right. The Home Education Foundation advises that in many situations, a parent’s views on what constitutes a suitable education differs broadly from the government’s views on what constitutes suitable education. In such cases, as these human rights instruments attest, it is the parent with whom the decision rests, not the government.
When the government disagrees with a parent over what constitutes a suitable education, it is the government’s opinion which must yield to the parent’s opinion in the absence of actual abuse.
We advise that a Bill which does not provide all parents with the ability to educate their own children at home will breach the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and fundamental parental rights in New Zealand
10 December Human Rights Day: