Raising children is a sign of hope. It shows that people have hope for the future and faith in the values they pass on to the next generation.
Therefore the responsibility of parents for their children is an irreplaceable cornerstone of society. Parents need not stand alone in bearing this responsibility, neither in the Europe of today nor that of tomorrow. The education community helps them with this task, social groups and institutions support them, public services offer material assistance and expertise.
Many people contribute to the raising of children in society, as children do not grow up in isolation but right in the middle of the real world. Growing up is thus much more than academic education, but is almost impossible without the efforts made by schools. Mutual support and mutual respect for the responsibility of parents and schools is the “conditio sine qua non” for raising children in our age.
The hopes of many people in Western and Eastern Europe are based upon a new cooperation on our continent, leading to increased unity and a common identity. Today’s young people will be citizens of the Europe of tomorrow, each with their distinctive spiritual and cultural background, each with their distinctive talents and expectations. For them and for ourselves we demand a democratic Europe, which will continue to regard its diversity as a source of inspiration.
Education and schooling in Europe should be focused on this objective.
If we want to achieve this goal, parents must work together: in schools, with schools, but also at European level and in national associations. Mutual inspiration and growth towards European solidarity are our objectives.
EPA regards this as its “to be or not to be”. But even more is needed.
Parents in Europe should have always the right to count on respect for their prime responsibility as educators of youth. This means recognition for their parental duties and emphasis on their task as prime educators for their children as well as support from dedicated people in education and society as a whole for their educational efforts.
EPA wishes to formulate this philosophy in a declaration of principles, the “Rights and Duties of Parents in Europe”. We ask the European Commission and Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe to support this Charter and join us in its realization.
Rights and duties of parents in Europe
1. Parents have the right to raise their children in a society without discrimination on the grounds of the color of their skin, sex, ethnic, social background, disability, nationality, beliefs, gender orientation or economic position.
Parents have the duty to raise their children towards a sense of responsibility for each other and for a humane world.
2. Parents have the right to recognition of their primacy as educators of their children.
Parents have the duty to raise children in a responsible way and not to neglect them.
3. Parents have the right to full access to the formal education system for their children on the basis of their needs, talents and merits. Everyone has the right to education and to have access to vocational training.
Parents have the duty to commit themselves as partners in education to the school of their children.
4. Parents have the right of access to all information at educational institutions which concerns their children.
Parents have the duty to give to their children’s schools all information relevant for the attainment of the educational goals on which they work together.
5. Parents have the right to make a choice for the education which is closest to their convictions and to the values they hold dear in raising their children and the freedom to found educational establishments with due respect for democratic principles.
Parents have the duty to make well-informed and conscientious choices about the education their children should receive.
6. Parents have the right to ensure the education and teaching of their children in conformity with their religious, philosophical and pedagogical convictions. The formal education system shall respect for the spiritual and cultural background of the children.
Parents have the duty to raise their children to respect and accept other people and their convictions.
7. Parents have the right to public material assistance to take away financial impediments to the access to education for their children. This includes the right to receive free compulsory education.
Parents have the duty to give both time and personal commitment to their children and their school to support its efforts in attaining educational goals.
8. Parents have the right to exert influence on the policy which their children’s school implements.
Parents have the duty to be personally committed to their children’s school as a vital part of the local community.
9. Parents and their associations have the right to be consulted actively about the policy of public authorities in education at all levels.
Parents have the duty to maintain democratic representative organizations at all levels to represent themselves and their interests.
10. Parents have the right to high quality educational provision from the responsible public authorities.
Parents have the duty to help each other to improve their skills as prime educators and partners in the home-school relationship.