'Knowledge is Expensive, but Ignorance Can Be Even More Costly'
On April 7, 2017, Jan De Groof, Professor at the College of Europe (Bruges, Belgium) and Tilburg University (the Netherlands), delivered a lecture on ‘Contemporary and Future Challenges of Education Law and Education Rights, Especially for Russia’. The event was organized by the HSE Institute of Education and the Faculty of Law.
Professor De Groof holds the UNESCO Chair for the Right to Education and is the former UNESCO Chargé de Mission on the Right to Education (2007-2010). During the lecture, he reviewed the particularities of this individual right and analyzed the provisions of the Federal Law ‘On Education in the Russian Federation’. He emphasized the primary importance of education in state regulation, specifying that, in Russia, the principle of innovative training has not been fully developed and, therefore, it has not been fully implemented.
Talking about his own experience (Professor De Groof was an advisor on the elaboration of the Federal Law ‘On Education in the Russian Federation’ in 1990-2000 and worked in the Republic of South Africa in 1995-2002), he mentioned the comparative aspects of legal regulation of education.
Without the right to education, and without a sufficient level of knowledge, the implementation of constitutional norms, such as the right to elect and to be elected, may be significantly obstructed.
For instance, Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, enacted in 1966, establishes every person’s right to education. Education should enable all people to participate in the development of a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, and all racial, ethnic and religious groups, etc.
During the lecture, issues concerning fee-paying higher education, education in private and public schools, and rural schools were discussed. The participants also looked into the problems of the relation between teaching and religious education, the education of migrant children, and home schooling.
During his speech, Professor De Groof also raised the issue of non-execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Russia and other countries, as well as other controversial matters associated with the inability to observe religious traditions in schools. Furthermore, he cited examples of particular cases considered by the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.
Professor Jan De Groof also stressed the high cost of education today. He noted that ‘knowledge is expensive, but ignorance can cost even more’. Therefore, cultivating the conditions for equal and full access to education is a critical function for any government.
The HSE Faculty of Law would like to thank Professor Jan de Groof and all participants for taking part in the discussion on the legal problems of education in Russia and other countries.