- Education should fit the individual for life as a full participant in society, and teach self-respect and respect for the dignity of others.
- Education should promote intellectual honesty. It should foster a love of learning and an appreciation of the supremacy of reason and the scientific method in the search for knowledge.
- Education for citizenship should be based on a framework of human rights and responsibilities and should impart the knowledge, cultivate the understanding, and foster the critical skills essential for individual engagement with society and politics.
- It should fit children and young people for life in a democratic society underpinned by empathy, human rights and the rule of law.
- Education should ensure that children are informed about a range of religious and nonreligious lifestances and have autonomy in their choice of their own lifestance.
- The school should bring an academic discipline to bear in presenting the beliefs, practices and values of different lifestances as well as assisting pupils to develop their own responses to them.
- Publicly funded schools should not promote one particular religious or non-religious lifestance as the only correct one but teach about the various lifestances (including Humanism) factually and in an objective way. Where parents or young people are offered an option of education into a particular lifestance, Humanism must be one option alongside the religions.
- Education directed at fostering inter-cultural understanding that includes religious viewpoints should also include Humanism as a non-religious lifestance and include the perspectives and culture of non-religious people.
NB: This text incorporates two small wording changes agreed by the EHF Board so to align EHF and IHEU policy after IHEU adopted at its 2010 General Assembly virtually the same policy as EHF. The word ‘empathy’ is an addition and the term ‘education into’ has been substituted for ‘instruction in’.
Many questions and problems arise in the application of this policy in practice:
Analysis of variables in different possible approaches
Across Europe there is huge variation in the treatment of religion and belief, including non-religious beliefs, in schools. This derives from the differences from place to place in religious, cultural and historical backgrounds. Here we analyse the different approaches possible, some of which are acceptable, others not.
Examples of humanist and secularist approaches
Some implications of our general policy
Human rights aspects of education policy
The OSCE’s Toledo guidelines
This content last updated 3 June 2013 @ 9:15 am