a right to Schooling or Education?

According to the UN everyone has a right to an education.

According to section 259 of Manitoba Public Schools Act we have a right to…. go to school. (It is the same in Ontario)

Slight difference in meaning there. These aren’t the same things, even though the Act’s preamble says this:

“AND WHEREAS the purpose of the public school system is to serve the best educational interests of students;”

Purposes aren’t laws. I find it interesting that Children’s Advocate, an independent office of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, who’s mission is to “advocate for systemic change for the benefit of children and youth under The Child and Family Services Act and The Adoption Act,” rewrites the education clause in their own words:

Education is a right set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention
on the Rights of the Child. The right to education is supported by law in Manitoba. [May 2011]

The question I have is – does saying you have a right to an education mean that the content of what it means to be educated needs to be defined?

If it does, then the UN declaration of Human Rights may be quite vague in recognizing the right to education, and the right for parents to choose (Article 26):

3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

I’m guessing the Manitoba Public Schools Act is worded like it is because of the “Schools Question” in the late 19th century. Faced with a deeply divided Protestant and Catholic province, Wilfred Laurier compromised on Catholic education in 1896, allowing Catholicism to be taught in publicly funded schools on a school-by-school basis.


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