Freedom of Education is Coming Under Attack Worldwide
by Benjamin Harnwell
Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience — it is difficult to open a newspaper these days without seeing some freedom or other under attack.
Soon to be added to this list of household names of besieged liberties is another: Freedom of Education, thanks in part to the recently published Index of Freedom of Education 2015/16.
Ranking 136 countries, comprising 94% of the world’s population, according to the degree of educative freedom in primary education, the Index concentrates its analysis on ‘non-governmental schools’, which are “usually run by civil society” specifying that their definition also covers “other denominations such as ‘private school’, ‘charter school’, ‘free school’, ‘independent school’, etc.”
Each country’s ranking depends on four differently weighted factors: the legal possibility to create and manage a non-governmental school; whether it is publicly funded, and if so, which pre-specified costs that funding covers; the net enrollment rate of primary education; and finally, the enrollment rate in non-governmental schools as a percentage of total primary education.
“Were it not for the strong culture of home schooling, the United States would have ranked lower than its actual 17th place at around 20th place,” Michael Donnelly, director of global outreach at the Home School Legal Defense Association, told the Register.
To put that into perspective, the opposite ends of the spectrum were taken by Ireland, which is ranked 1st, and Gambia, which finally limps in last at 136th place. The UK is ranked at a respectable 6th.
Italian veteran family campaigner and former politician Luca Volontè, whose Novae Terrae Foundation was one of the major financiers of the report, underlined to the Register that “education is a natural battleground — perhaps the most fundamental battleground for those on both sides of the culture wars — because the educative formation of the next generation by and large dictates the future.”
As the Jesuits used to say, give me a boy until he is seven, and I will give you the man.