Rights, responsibilities and regulation - the three Rs of education: a consideration of the state's control over parental choice in education

Taylor and Francis - Routledge
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Education And The Law, 2008, 20 (3), pp. 193 - 208
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Education is both a right and a responsibility. International instruments such as the International covenant on civil and political rights and the International convention on the rights of the child affirm the right of all children to education. This right is spelt out in the education legislation of all states and territories in Australia. Education is not only free but is compulsory for all children between certain ages. The obligation is imposed on parents (in accordance with definitions contained therein) to ensure that their children are both enrolled at and attend school. However, parental choice of education provider is allowed within each jurisdiction by way of state, private or church schools, all of which are registered and regulated to varying degrees by the state. The legislation of each jurisdiction also makes some degree of provision for parents who choose to opt out their children from any formal education setting and to educate them at home. Home education is also subject to state regulation. The assumption by the state of the responsibility for education guides this policy and legislation. The argument for state control of all education, no matter how and by whom it is provided, is that the state has an overriding interest in ensuring the economic well-being of its citizens and the growth of its intellectual capital. The state acknowledges that the responsibility for education is shared with parents, primarily by providing penalties for parents who fail to ensure enrolment and attendance of their children at a school. There is evidence that more and more parents in developed countries worldwide are choosing to educate their children at home, and anecdotal evidence suggests that Australia is part of this trend.
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