No such thing as a little bit of human rights – stop discriminating against 5 year old children

In Ireland many children leave their human rights at the school gate. The education system in Ireland does not guarantee and respect the rights of children and their parents. The human right to education is not difficult to understand. It is not rocket science. Atheist Ireland campaigns for an education system that will guarantee in practice and law the human rights of all children and their parents.

In Ireland many people get confused about what exactly the right to education means. For example, the right to education does not mean that the state is obliged to fund a religious education that reflects the wishes of some families. It is a breach of the rights of the child to guarantee an education to certain children, that reflects their parents’ wishes, while at the same time discriminating against other children who want to access their basic human right to education.

The following are the basic human rights principles with regard to the right to education. Anything below this means that that state is not protecting the rights of children. There is no such thing as a little bit of human rights.

The Right to Access to Education

The Right to Education belongs to the child. Every child has a human right to access education without religious discrimination. The European Court has determined that this is an absolute right, and not to be balanced against the rights of others or limited in any way. In Ireland, all children do not have a right to access their local publicly funded school without religious discrimination.

Atheist Ireland is campaigning to remove religious discrimination in access to education. The Irish Human Right and Equality Commission and the Ombudsman for Children have recommended that religious discrimination in access to education is removed for all children, regardless of their parents’ religious or philosophical convictions.  These Recommendations are a reflection of Ireland’s international obligations, and the Recommendations from the United Nations and Council of Europe under the various treaties that Ireland has ratified.

As long as there is one child in Ireland that is refused access to their local publicly funded school because their parents are not the right religion, or have no religion, we will continue to campaign to remove this discrimination.

Access to the State Curriculum in an Objective, Critical and Pluralistic manner

Children have a right to access the State curriculum in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner. As with access to schools without religious discrimination, the European Court has said that this is an absolute right, not to be balanced against the rights of others, or to be gradually achieved.

In Ireland, the State curriculum is not delivered in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner in the vast majority of schools because of religion, and because the State is pursuing an aim of indoctrination by not respecting parents convictions.

The Irish State ‘provides for’ the education of minorities in publicly funded National schools under religious patronage, and fails to put in place statutory guidelines or laws that would ensure that the state curriculum is delivered in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner.

Atheist and secular parents have exactly the same rights as religious parents. The State is obliged to respect the philosophical convictions of parents while their children are accessing their right to education.

In Ireland, the state does not recognise and protect the rights of Atheist and secular parents to respect for their philosophical convictions because they do not recognise that their philosophical convictions are worthy of respect in a democratic society. They elevate the convictions of some religious parents over parents with philosophical convictions and minority religious parents.

Proposed new Policy from Richard Bruton

The proposed new policy introduced by the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton will not remove religious discrimination in the education system. There will still be children in Ireland who are denied their human rights in the education system. They will be refused access to their local school because of religion.

There will be many children from Atheist and Secular families as well as religious minorities who will not have access to an education in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner. They will have to attend their local publicly funded school under the management of a religious body whose main reason for getting into the education system is to evangelise not educate.

No such thing as a little bit of human rights

Access to the education system and access to education in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner is the very basic part of the right to education, there really is nothing below that. There is no such thing as a little bit of human rights.  If just one child in the country is refused access to the education system on the grounds of religion, then that is one child too much. If just one child cannot access the state curriculum in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner, then that is one child too much.

Conclusion

The right to education belongs to the child. Every child in this country has a right to access their local publicly funded National School without religious discrimination, and every child has a right to an education that is objective, critical and pluralistic.

This is a basic human right for every child, and at this stage this government has failed to grasp this. Until we change its mind, the Government will continue to show deference to religious bodies whose main aim in education is to evangelise, not to protect the guarantee the rights of the child.

 

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