Parents? and teachers? responsibilities in children?s education
The Assembly stresses that education is at the root of the development of
every human being and of society. Because of its importance for the future
of Europe, it should have priority in the Assembly?s debates and the
Committee of Ministers? action.
Education is, from birth to adulthood, a mixture of factors and influences.
Two institutions, however, play a pre-eminent role and have formal
educational responsibilities before the law and society: the family and the
Parents have always been and always will be the first educators of a child.
They have the right and the duty to lay the intellectual and
emotional bases for their children?s lives, and to help develop their
system of values and attitudes, particularly since a child?s future is
strongly conditioned during the pre-school period. They must also exercise
their responsibilities as parents of schoolchildren. For its part, the state
must run an educational system which trains young people to be good citizens
and sound professionals, providing them with the bases for life-long
learning and personal development.
For all the clarity of this general division of responsibilities, its
practical implementation is becoming increasingly difficult in a
contemporary society faced with far-reaching upheavals in both families and
schools, and equally in the links between the two institutions.
Changing family structures are modifying the traditional distribution
of roles, tasks and responsibilities within the family unit.
Furthermore, the advent of the information society is raising
unprecedented challenges for the education system.
Families and schools are also constantly exposed to outside factors,
such as the media (especially television and the Internet), friends, the
community at large, and so on.
In the current state of affairs, neither parents nor teachers can transmit
in isolation all the knowledge, skills and values that young people need for
proper integration into society. ?Parenthood?
is still the only ?profession? that is not taught formally, whereas
school, with its educational knowledge and experience, often lacks
motivation and resources. When it comes to confronting such challenges as
over-information and the alternative models supplied by the media, or
serious social problems, such as social exclusion, marginalisation and
violence, both the family and the school are beginning to lack reference
In this multitude of complex situations, there is growing confusion
concerning the role which parents and schools should play in educating young
people. There is thus a risk that they may start blaming each other, with
each side disregarding and shirking responsibility for the really serious
Without wishing to draw up an exhaustive list, but convinced of the need for
increased awareness of the respective responsibilities of parents and
schools, the Assembly nevertheless considers that instead of investigating
what each of these two institutions can do on its own, we should consider
how they might join forces and combine their responsibilities with a view to
an effective concerted effort. To
that extent, improving communication between children, parents and schools,
with participation by voluntary associations and non-formal educational
bodies, and forging a genuine partnership between them are proving
absolutely necessary if we are to meet our society?s educational needs.
Even though the public authorities have gradually realised this need over
the past few years, the current extent of partnership between schools and
parents must be deemed insufficient, although the situation varies
considerably from country to country and between different lifestyles,
cultures and religions within each country.
Young people feel that they are not sufficiently involved in the
taking of decisions which concern them.
The community at large (political authorities, economic operators,
public and private organisations and associations, and the media) should
also be more actively involved.
Consequently, the Assembly requests that the Committee of Ministers:
consider the matter of the respective responsibilities of parents and
teachers in children?s education and the legislative, educational and
practical measures that could be taken to improve communication and
strengthen partnership between them, and report to the Assembly;
organise an international conference in 2002 on partnership between
parents and schools, with the participation of the European Union and
The Assembly also requests that the Committee of Ministers advise member
states to adopt special measures, as appropriate:
to improve communication and interaction between parents and educational
authorities at all educational levels (national, regional and local),
and encourage the establishment of partnerships, while also ensuring the
requisite legal, financial and organisational conditions for the
practical implementation of these objectives;
to involve non-governmental organisations, and particularly associations
providing non-formal education, more closely;
to promote and develop further training for parents, in order to help
them play their educational role in a constantly changing world, make
them more aware of their responsibilities, and also harmonise the
messages received by children at home and at school;
to make teacher-parent relations a part, or a bigger part, of teacher
training, and particularly further training;
to introduce policies to improve the status of the teaching profession;
to find ways of making it easier for parents to discharge their parental
responsibilities in cases where reconciling family and working life is
difficult, and children have to remain at home on their own;
to encourage educational authorities to give more consideration to young
people?s needs and concerns, especially by setting up or strengthening
student councils and other local, regional and national forms of
participation, involving students more closely in educational
decision-making and in settling such problems as violence at school;
to pay very particular attention to education for children from
underprivileged social and family backgrounds, and promote specific and,
if necessary, out-of-school partnerships with parents from these
backgrounds; to train teachers in intercultural relations and to provide
the resources needed to overcome language and cultural barriers in
relations with immigrant families;
to give the public a clearer picture of what schools are doing, in order
to promote dialogue and so encourage parent participation and make
timetables and procedures more flexible to facilitate this
to foster co-operation between schools and local authorities, for
example, by using schools to promote a community spirit and accommodate
social, sports and cultural structures;
to increase the autonomy of schools so that each one can more easily
adapt to its specific local realities.
The Assembly also recommends that the Committee of Ministers advise member
states to promote wide-ranging public dialogue and an increased awareness of
the need for co-operation between families and schools, for instance:
by developing participation by local authorities, employers and the
relevant non-governmental organisations in discussion of school or
by promoting televised debates on education, and emphasising the
educational responsibilities of both parents, and of teachers;
by taking advantage of the new information technologies to develop
dialogue between families and schools.
Assembly debate on 26 January 2001
(8th Sitting) (see Doc. 8915,
report of the Committee on Culture and Education, rapporteur: Mr Varela
adopted by the Assembly on 26 January 2001 (8th Sitting).