The Principle of Equality in Education with an International and Comparative Constitutional Position – the View of Professor from Roma Tre University, Pablo Meix Cereceda
From the point of view of the researcher, the most important right is the right to education. Indeed, this right is the condition for the realization of all other rights. From this phrase of the Scientific leader of the Center for Education Law of the HSE Institute of Education, Professor Jan de Grof, began the next day within the ‘Week of Education Law’.
In his introductory speech, Professor de Groof raised the issue of the conditions that education should meet, and cited an internationally accepted list, according to which the education should be accessible, adaptive, and based on existing social and cultural realities. However, according to Professor de Groof , it is necessary to add a fourth condition to this list – awareness of education.
Professor from Roma Tre University, Pablo Meix Cereceda , outlined the critical areas of concern of the report and, in particular, the theoretical basis of inclusive education, international regulation of the problem, approach to he issue from the position of constitutional law, analysis of the practice of positive discrimination.
In his report, Pablo Meix Cereceda noted the importance of studying the theoretical concept of inclusive education, which includes four main areas: the selective model, the universal model of education that takes into account individual characteristics, the compensatory model, and the inclusive model, which requires the increasing level of tolerance.
Describing the existing international regulation, Professor Cereceda focused on the importance of combining the rules of both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ law. As an example, the report included the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in particular its article 26.1-2), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and other documentation.
Professor Cereceda described the existing constitutional principles for each level of the educational system in detail. Regarding primary education, the main investor of which is the state, it is the question of its compliance with constitutional provisions at the highest possible level. The majority of countries provide the citizens with primary education. The regulation of secondary education is more variable, a number of countries do not apply such principles as free education, equal access to the secondary level of education, etc. Speaking about higher education, Professor Cereceda noted that the right of different access to this educational level is not universal, and is provided on a competitive basis, for example, in Russia. In his report, professor also raised the important question of the level of governmental regulation of education.
Based on the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, Professor Cereceda formulated key points of positive discrimination: the inability to evaluate data exclusively on the basis of statistics, since the indicators do not provide an understanding of the reasons; differentiation of regulation because of the specifics of the territory, for example, the language of minorities.
As part of the discussions, questions were raised about the position of international law regarding the iformal education. Professor Cereceda gave an example of the distinction between the concepts ‘education’ and ‘development’ in international law, and emphasized the importance of discussing the topic in the context of preschool education and the lack of barrier-free environment in schools.
Professor Ingo Richter focused on private schools, namely, on the issue of having a duty to realize the rights to equal access to education. Professor Cereceda noted the ambiguity of this approach and the presence of certain difficulties related to this discussion.
The analyst of the Center for Social and Economic Development of the School, Nadezhda Bysik, noted the importance of fixing a number of provisions in the legislation, but Professor Cereceda answered that the approval of such an approach should be the subject of public discussions.
Director of the Center for Education Law of the HSE Institute of Education Szymon Jankiewicz added that at the constitutional level all conditions for equal access to education regardless of the status of an individual are already formed. At the same time, it must be noted that there are cases of discrimination in law enforcement practice, for example, the discrimination of children from migrant families.
The opponent of Professor Cereceda in the subsequent discussion was a Senior Research Fellow of the Center for Education Law, Maria Smirnova.
In her speech, Maria Smirnova outlined the following issues as controversial topics: the lack of opportunities to ensure equal access to education in secondary schools; the universal nature of the principle of equality; the question of the existence of instruments that might promote the implementation of these principles except for the Universal Convention on Human Rights; the question of the reality of the situation, when the state becomes the main investor of education, in the context of the existence of private schools; the question of the relationship between equality and non-discrimination in education.