Rights, children's rights and compulsory education
The ideas of children's rights, children's right to education and compulsory education are widely accepted nowadays, if only in general terms. This thesis is concerned to explore and offer possible reasons for the acceptance of these ideas, and, particularly, to clarify the relation between the ideas of `lq children's right to education and `lq compulsory education. First, however, it is necessary to consider the general features of rights-talk, on the grounds that the denotations and connotations of rights-talk have some significant bearings on the central issues of the thesis. Thereafter, the emphasis is shifted to the question of children's rights. Certain writers' theories - namely, Hobbes', Mill's and Hart's - were once assumed to be contradictory to the idea of children's rights, but it is argued that these writers' theories have been misunderstood. Apart from clarifying these writers' theories in relation to children's rights, the thrust of this thesis is to offer a convincing justification for the idea of children's rights in general, and children's rights is rationally acceptable and practically necessary in maintaining satisfactory relationships between children and other parties for people who are rational, self-interested, just and benevolent. It is also argued that children's right to education is justifiable on the grounds that it is an essential good for both children and society as a whole. The issue of children's right to education is tackled within the framework of liberal democracy; hence the form of education proposed is also geared to the cultivation of persons who can play a part in a liberal democracy. The issue of compulsory education is discussed. It is argued that compulsory education can be justified and that its justification is mainly based on paternalism and children's obligation to undertake education. In the concluding chapter, it is argued that children's right to education can indeed be used to justify compulsory education, but this line of reasoning should be based on paternalism, which in turn should be rights-based. The thesis finally reaches the conclusion that the option-rights tradition and the claim that rights-talk is not self-referring should be rejected.