Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why education must never become an EU competence

A number of EU member states either have laws which expressly prohibit home-schooling, or actively persecute those parents who exert their freedom to educate their children as they wish. It is little known that Germany still sends in uniformed police officers to physically remove children from their families, enforcing the home-schooling ban which originated with Hitler. Mandatory public school attendance, and the accompanying procedures to physically escort children to schools, were legalised under the Nazis in 1938. Hitler was concerned at that time about having children grow up with perspectives that were not approved by the state. It is somewhat disturbing that the Fuhrer's law is still enforced.

The targeted parents are all Christians, whose faith encourages them to act upon their principles, but the fierceness of the authorities’ reaction is telling. The dispute is primarily about who controls the hearts and minds of children. In Germany, schools have become vehicles of state indoctrination where children are brought up to unquestioningly accept its authority in all areas of life.

This particular case concerns a 16-year-old girl, who has been placed in a child psychiatry unit after she turned in below-expected grades in maths and Latin. In a European Union which is supposed to protect freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, the education officials of Germany have warned that they will ‘bring the religious convictions of the family into line’ with state requirements. According to reports, a decision was recently handed down by the European Court of Human rights which completely turned the European Union Constitution's Article 14 on its head. This article concerned the right of parents to control the education of their children; a right which is fiercely guarded by the Roman Catholic Church. The European Convention on Human Rights states: ‘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 is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.’

But the court's ruling said, instead, that schools ‘represent society’, and ‘it was in the children's interest to become part of that society… The parents' right to education did not go as far as to deprive their children of that experience.’

In the former Soviet Union, Baptists were among the most fiercely persecuted. They distrusted the state, and advocated secession from state-run institutions. That such a mentality is permeating members of the EU is concerning, though perhaps unsurprising. An institution founded on ‘human rights’ is almost obliged to deify such rights, and these include the rights of children. When one looks at the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the foundations already exist for a global ban on home-schooling, which will result in children all being taught to be ‘good citizens of the world’, and to respect the UN as the world government.

It is perhaps no accident that children of the EU are now being taught to think in terms of ‘Europe’ rather than the nation of their birth. While the majority of the present generation of adults may vote no in any referendum on the EU's constitution, with the millions of euros spent on free EU 'information' for schools, it is only a matter of time before the majority is brainwashed into believing 'Europe - our future'.


Blogger Steven Bainbridge said...

Indeed. All aspects of the curriculum, whatever the subject must have a "European dimension" to them. Gordon Brown's talk of "Britishness" lessons - another excuse to talk about the UK's role in the EU. And the European Union themselves are promoting packs which teach children that the EU is good. It's not teaching them what it 'does' or how it is built and allow them to form their own opinions. No - they're being taught that it is good. As you say, it is beginning to sound rather familiar to that faraway country from the 1930s.

Steven Bainbridge
A View from the Right

13 February 2007 at 08:27  
Anonymous Voyager said...

were legalised under the Nazis in 1938. Hitler was concerned at that time

Your Grace, I happen to know something of these cases and I do agree with you that the State is repressive. I would add several thoughts.

You state 1938 but to the best of my recollection the Third Reich ended in May 1945 and Germany did not have a replacement state until 1949.

For four years the country was run by the Four Powers who did not rescind this law. I should point out that Hitler's Laws on forcible sterilisation of women were rescinded only in the Soviet Zone but not in the British or US Zones and are still on the Statute Book today.

Similarly laws governing transport and distribution from 1935 still exist on the Statute Book.

The problem with the ECHR is that it guarantees the right against The State for education but does not specify that the Parent but the State should provide it.

In England we have the obligation on the parent for the child to be educated and so far Labour has not attempted to modify that principle to give The State exclusive rights.

On the other hand Germany does have a few private schools, so that were Churches to create schools (rather as Muslims have in The King Fahd Academy in Bonn) no doubt this situation would not be a problem.

The dimensions are different in that Adolf Hitler eradicated most private charities and foundations in his policy of Gleichschaltung ("harmonisation") and brought them and their assets under State control; a situation subsequently reinforced in the Second German dictatorship in the GDR.

One little known fact is that German cities have many Vereine - such as tennis clubs etc which receive public grants yet are run as exclusive membership organisations. There is in essence an attempt to create clubs and associations but they are in receipt of public funds - the old German adage being Trust is good. Control is better

THe reason the ECHR does not have much impact on Germany is simply that the ECHR refers to the German Constitution and determines that Education is available and Arts 4,5,6 apply.

When the Allies had the Grundgesetz drawn up they had Article I as The Rights of the Citizen and made the Section immutable under Art 79 Para 3 which means normal procedures of Amendment do not apply to Article I

The ECHR will note that Art 7 (1) of the German Constitution states The entire School System is under supervision of The State

Art 7(5) is a problem 5) Eine private Volksschule ist nur zuzulassen, wenn die Unterrichtsverwaltung ein besonderes pädagogisches Interesse anerkennt oder, auf Antrag von Erziehungsberechtigten, wenn sie als Gemeinschaftsschule, als Bekenntnis- oder Weltanschauungsschule errichtet werden soll und eine öffentliche Volksschule dieser Art in der Gemeinde nicht besteht.

This restricts the right of parents to open a new primary school unless it is of especial paedagogic interest and no State provision of that type exists.

This is a very destructive clause.

In short the deficiencies in the German approach to Education are clear and it does restrict freedom of conscience and the right to exist outside the control of LEAs.

The German system is an imposition from the centre whereas Britain began EDucation as a local council function and Church function - Germany supplanted The Churches with The State and created the model replicated in the USSR

13 February 2007 at 09:03  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Voyager,

His Grace is, as always, apppreciative of your insights. Your encyclopaedic knowledge on such matters is enlightening to all communicants.

13 February 2007 at 09:28  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

This is all a bit concerning.

How can EU law not override national law? I thought that's what the EU was about. If EU law (through the Convention on Human Rights) gives parents the freedom to educate their kids at home, then the Euro Court of Human Rights must uphold that, no?

Or is it one rule for Germany, and another for the rest of the EU. Surely the judgment of the Court implies that home education all over the EU is in danger of being abolished, because schools are 'communities'? And kids have the 'right' to be educated in a community, right?

13 February 2007 at 11:34  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Ulster Man you need disentangling.

The EU rests on The Treaty of Rome 1957 and its Court is the European Court of Justice in Brussels

The ECHR is part of the Council of Europe set up by Britain in 1950.

The two are not connected.

EU Law overrides national law if that EU area of responsibility is an agreed area by either Unaniminity or Qualified Majority Voting.

That is the whole issue of the Constitution - that it would let the EU Commission decide what areas it was responsible for and NOt the Council of Ministers

The Euro Convention on Human Rights gives no right to home-schooling - nor incidentally does English law. All it takes is a ruling of the Law Lords to make it illegal but no test ase has been taken that high by any LEA ...yet

The German Constitution fulfills in most respects ALL aspects of the ECHR in which case it is not in contravention. In the case of Britain which has no Bill of Rights the ECHR used to go back to First Principles to establish those rights in English Law.

This is why the Govt put the whole Convention into English Law to reduce the instances of reference to Strasbourg since Britain and Italy are the two countries with most cases filed.

The Convention covers Administrative Error and Behaviour and not just Laws - it applies ONLY against State Power and cannot apply to private schools.

Germany has a different legal system from England. It has an Administrative Court for admin matters; a Youth Court for Youth Matters; a Civil Court and a Criminal Court.

It has a Supreme Court for Criminal Matters and a Constitutional Court for constitutional matters.

In Britain it all flows into the same Court System divided into County Court and Crown Court (in the same buildings) and with matters pushed through The High Court of Justice and its various divisions.

In Germany Judges are trained as Judges ab initio rather than being retired barristers - this is a more common pattern on the Continent.

The ECHR works on the basis of general principles - it has many more members than the EU with countries such as Russia and Norway - neither of which are EU members

13 February 2007 at 13:11  
Anonymous Voyager said...



13 February 2007 at 13:13  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

"Ulster Man you need disentangling."

I've often thought that.

My problem is that my brain has loads of facts, and they sometimes merge, and the end result is not really the whole case.

Fact + Fiction = Faction

Thanks for disentagling me.

You seem to indicate the parents educating their kids has an insecure foundation in the UK. Are we really just waiting for an LEA to take a set of parents to court for the whole thing to come crashing down?

13 February 2007 at 13:19  
Blogger wrinkled weasel said...

About 50,000 children come under the umbrella of "homeschooling" in this country. It is highly organised, regulated and currently based on a Western European model. Nobody here has a problem with it.

All it takes now is for the Muslims to find out about it and the whole edifice will tumble.

The Government will have to legislate to stop the Muslim children being even further cut off from our cuture and in so doing this will impact (as it has in other realms) on those people who simply seek an alternative, but who nevertheless seek to inculcate the values of our society.

13 February 2007 at 14:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your readers may be interested in the following internet site. It regularly reports the difficulties homeschoolers experience in Germany.

The site offers other obvious benefits to those in search of religious truth


13 February 2007 at 17:37  
Anonymous Oiznop said...

Cranmer, education is already an assumed EU competence. It is linked with buzzwords like industry, competitive, progress, future, so it is absorbed into the 'single market' jargon quite conveniently.


13 February 2007 at 18:02  
Anonymous Colin said...

His Grace,

Thank you very much for criticising the current German practise to punish parents for homeschooling their children. Furthermore, I would like to express my admiration for Voyager's detailed knowledge of the educational situation in Germany.

To my knowledge, there now have been two recent cases, one in the province of Hambourg and one in the province of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Interestingly, both provinces are run by conservative governments. Most of the pupils who do not attend school are children of migrant families although not in the two cases reported. I do not know if this is the beginning of a forced integration programme for children from Islamic families or not. Conservative politicians discussing the need for better integration of migrants talk about plans to make kindergarten and language aquisition in the kindergarten compulsory in order to achieve a better integration. The MSM report about more social workers, language lessons and tests for the children of migrants. Hence, it might all be part of a larger plan. Maybe Voyager knows more about that.

The justification given by the judges for coercive schooling is remarkable: Not attending school would endanger the social development of children.

In reality, children are physically and emotionally endangered at school because some of the adolescent boys from Islamic families don't obey female teachers at primary schools and because schools are unable to guarantee the security of the children even at the school yard. Being submitted to constant bullying and aggressions at school has a severe traumatizing effect on some of the children.

In regard to private schooling in Germany and Britain, I learned from Professor James Tooley's article about Private Education in the European Union that "widespread private education – and even more remarkably, widespread government support of private education – is commonplace throughout the European Union. Britain is a tiny minority as being one of only two countries (with Greece) that does not financially support private education, though ‘this absence of funding,’ as the European commission succinctly put it in a recent survey, ‘does not prevent the State from exercising control over private education institutions.’(1) The British government seems to want to regulate private education as heavily as other European countries, while at the same time offering no financial support...

But practically every other country in the European Union could offer interesting lessons for us here. Take Germany, for instance. There, private education is growing at a remarkable rate – greatest in the east German Länder, where private schools were first allowed only in 1990. By 1998, some 154 private general education schools had been established. In the west German Länder,‘new private schools are being established less frequently,’ says the European Commission report: but look at what this means in terms of pupils – an increase of around 14% to 506,700 in the period from 1992 to 1998. The report goes on to say that this ‘can hardly be seen as a shift in favour of private school enrolment,’ given that only about 6% of pupils attend private school. In other words, Germany has roughly the same proportion of
privately-educated children as in the UK.

But these overall figures hide something much more interesting. In the Gymnasium (lower and upper secondary grammar school), 10.3% of pupils are in the private sector, and there are 11.3% of schools in the private sector at this level. For Realschulen (‘secondary moderns’) the level is 7.1% of pupils (7.7% of schools); while special schools are 16.4% in the private sector. So at certain levels of schooling, private education in Germany is significantly higher than in the UK.

In terms of financing the picture is also fascinating. The Land governments are required to ensure the existence of private schools, and so must give some financial assistance to them, including lump sums for capital purchases and per capita subsidies. There are also indirect subsidies ‘in the form of tax allowances and payments to parents or legal guardians to meet school fees and transport costs for pupils.’ But this does not preclude schools from charging fees. Private schools do not have to follow the same timetables, textbooks or curricula as government schools. Moreover, private schools ‘may also promote specific religious or philosophical views and apply their own teaching methods,’ and they ‘have complete freedom to choose their teaching staff.’ Inspection is fairly minimal: ‘basically fulfilled in the form of information and reports submitted to the education authorities of the Land.’

In other words, in Germany, which the accepted wisdom holds is not interested in privatisation of education at all, not only are private schools eligible for substantial state subsidy (even though they charge fees), they do not have to follow significant state regulations. And part of the subsidy to them is in the form of tax credits to help parents pay fees.

All of this makes New Labour seem very out of touch when it abolished the Assisted Places Scheme, the scheme that allowed bright but (somewhat) disadvantaged children to attend the private school of their choice."

Personally, I would be happy to learn more about differences in private education in GB and Germany since I am not well informed about this subject. Maybe Voyager, who seems to know both systems quite well, is able to provide us with some insights.

Anyhow, government-run primary schools in Germany are already teaching about Europe as I just learned from some pupils. Hence, His Grace conclusion is correct that ”it is only a matter of time before the majority is brainwashed into believing 'Europe - our future”

13 February 2007 at 22:06  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Actually Colin the English system is not so bad. Charitable Status means "independent schools" can benefit from legacies, and have certain tax reliefs, and VAT is not levied on fees.

The National Curriculum does NOT apply to private schools but the Thatcherite straitjacket of the National Curriculum could be applied to home-schooling as could OFSTED inspections which ARE applied to registered child-minders.

The biggest problem in England is that private school fees are paid from net incomes and no tax relief is available unless grandparents have a Trust and many parents in the Southeast are re-mortgaging homes to pay school fees.

Therer should be a withdrawal from education by The State but whereas it seems keen to absolve itself of pensions, hospitals, etc it seems determined to control ideological programming of children.

Prussia started the craze for State control of Education under Frederick The Great and Britain followed meekly with the 1870 Act permitting local councils to levy a rate for schools

The core of problems in US society stems from The High School and its lack of discipline and rigour; it has been copied in both Britain and Germany; and even the Japanese Prime Minister has complained recently of lack of discipline in Japanese Schools.

What parents end up paying for in private education is the education they believe their generation got free in State schools - before new cranky ideas gained foothold.

There really is no reason why private schools should not be encouraged and promoted with full tax relief for a Standard Fee Assessment credited.

14 February 2007 at 07:14  
Anonymous Colin said...


Thank you for the helpful explanations. I always considered the British schools superior to the German system. The fact that Britain has the highest number of Nobel prize winners per capita in the world must somehow be related to the education of its children, so my reasoning. Therefore, I was somehow confused by Tooley's article. Thank you for setting the record straight.

Indeed, the ideological indoctrination of children at schools controlled by the state is a threat to independent thinking abilities and freedom.

14 February 2007 at 16:56  
Blogger istanbultory said...

May I put one concern to rest. When it was introduced by the Treaty on European Union (Article 126 EC) the competence attributed to the EC in education was narrowly drawn and explicitly excludes "any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States"in this area. The EU's activities in the educational sphere are thus secondary and are likely to remain so (with the exception of vocational training, certain aspects of higher education and EU agitprop in schools)
Of course,it is most regrettable that home schooling is illegal and virtually unheard of in Germany, unlike Britain, Denmark or the United States, where it is regarded as an acceptable educational alternative. Indeed, in Europe only Slovakia and Germany specifically forbid it.
I regard home schooling as a very positive, family-friendly alternative, free from oppressive state diktat and compulsory secularism. So home schooling is a crime in Germany while same sex marriage is regarded as progress and a great victory for human rights and equal opportunities. Some are apparently more equal than others…

14 February 2007 at 18:58  
Anonymous Colin said...

"home schooling is a crime in Germany while same sex marriage is regarded as progress and a great victory for human rights and equal opportunities"

Excellent point, Istanbultory. It clearly shows who is setting the political agenda.

But there seems to be a sign of hope. The government coalition of social democrats and conservatives have agreed on a so-called reform of Federalism which supposedly makes education independent of the central government. The German provinces or states (i.e. Länder) may independently decide what is taught at school, the media report. The social democrats were fiercely opposed and demanded more and not less centralisation in educational matters.

However, since the EU has the power to override national laws, in the end the EU may very well dictate school curricula in all the member states of the EU. Hence, the glorification of the French revolution and of Napoleon by British school children might not be too far away.

14 February 2007 at 20:11  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

homeschooling in Germany is a crime?

I'm baffled.

According to Voyager, it's an EU human right to educate kids as parents wish.

How can Germany get away with outlawing it?

14 February 2007 at 21:47  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Indeed, in Europe only Slovakia and Germany specifically forbid it.

Try Belgium - read Paul Belien's experience over at The Brussels Journal blog - the harassment


15 February 2007 at 07:04  

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