Sun, Aug. 24, 2014

Uneducated? An Injustice!

Compelling Case for a Right to Education
SF - Washington.   Everyone has the right to education. Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 10, 1948.

Education is one of those topics politicians love to talk about. Talk is cheap, though, as Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, former Maltese President and Minister of Education, explains in his latest book An Introduction to the Law of Education. Compellingly, he calls for a debate on the legal framework and conditions of the law of education. Every politician championing education should heed his counsel: One cannot do the right thing if one does not know what the right thing is, and one comes to know what is right through being informed. p. 5.

While the author's main focus is on his home country of Malta, the international reader will find plenty of inspiring insights into the law of education worldwide. While law and education met very late in the development of many societies, the law of education has many roots and commonalities throughout the world. Through an intelligent mixture of history and philosophy, the author examines the influences of state, church, and parents on education. He also presents the overarching role of language as a medium of education and sheds light on teachers' positions in the education system.

Citing Aristotle and Kant and thus placing his deliberations on a philosophical foundation, the author explores constitutions and court decisions from different countries, among those Germany and the United States of America, as well as decisions of international courts and tribunals. He shows where historical differences occurred between countries and regions that are still present in current national legislation and where international pacts and agreements, beginning with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, aim at constituting common standards of education.

The book's regional focus is on Europe, referring frequently to the Council of Europe, on whose Venice Commission on Democracy through Law the author has served as of 2002. Additionally, the book points to a variety of comparisons between Europe and the U.S. on the law of education. It references to U.S. history and Supreme Court decisions to demonstrate a contrast to European legislation while also emphasizing common principles. We learn how the Prussian educational system served as a model for the American public school system in the 19th century and how European legislation mirrors Supreme Court decisions on minority languages in education. The author highlights the different views of academic freedom between Europe and the U.S., and explains that corporal punishment of children is not legally banned in all U.S. states, while the European Court of Human Rights in numerous rulings declared it a violation of children's rights.

Based on his lifetime achievement, the author closes with a passionate plea for a profound legal education in national, European, and international law for every citizen as a keystone for democracy.

Without a doubt, this book is a must for teachers, politicians, and lawyers in the field of education, as it refrains from tedious stock-taking and analysis. En passant, the reader is taken on a journey through Maltese and European history, meeting the grand thinkers and statesmen of their time. A captivating book I highly recommend.
An Introduction to the Law of Education
Dr. Ugo Mifsud Bonnici
ISBN: 9789990945751
400 pages - 25.00 Euros

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