20th SESSION OF THE HUMAN
INTERVENTION BY H.E. MSGR. SILVANO M. TOMASI,
The Delegation of the Holy See supports what the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education states, that “it is essential to promote the right to education as entitlement in terms of universal access to basic education, and as empowerment in terms of acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies and their quality”.
The Special Rapporteur notes that millions of children are not attending primary school in low-income countries and countless children go through five years of education without learning basic reading, writing and math skills. Education, however, is required to promote a culture of peace, mutual respect and international solidarity. It should be provided to children of both sexes and without any discrimination based on their religion, national or ethnic origin, race, colour, wealth or disability. As the Report underlines, it implies a cooperative approach for its success: adequate infrastructure and facilities and a school environment in which teachers, parents and communities are all active participants in school life.
On the other hand, the inalienable right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children, remains an irreplaceable priority, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states (Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children, Art. 26). This right is connected with the transmission of human life and the unique loving relationship between parents and children.
Education is comprehensive and concerned with “the integral formation of the person, including the moral and spiritual dimension, focused upon man’s final end and the good of the society to which he belongs. Therefore, in order to educate in truth, it is necessary first and foremost to know who the human person is, to know human nature” (Benedict XVI’s Message for the World Day of Peace 2012: “Educating young people in justice and peace”). The Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education rightly refers to various international instruments that affirm that education should be aimed at the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity. For example for article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights education should “enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups...”. In this perspective, it is easy to understand that, by exercising its mission to educate, the family contributes to the common good and constitutes the first school of social virtue, which all societies need.
In its social function, education is an indispensable condition for progress and the improvement of the quality of life. It develops personal talents and places them at the service of society, a process that leads to innovation and moves forward the economy whose real propelling force are prepared and responsible persons aware that the goal to be achieved is the common good. The implementation of the right to education remains a real challenge; if carried out in all countries, however, it will bear fruit for both individuals and society.