Alfred Fernández: «We Must Protect of the Family as Laid Out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights»

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Speaking from his unique perspective as General Director of OIDEL, an NGO that lobbies for academic freedom across Europe, Alfred Fernández, a Catalan based in Brussels, recently addressed some of today’s biggest questions in Europe surrounding education and the family at a lecture given at the Institute of Advanced Family Studies (IESF).

OIDEL has consultative status at the United Nations (Economic and Social Council), UNESCO and the Council of Europe, and is recognized by the Canton of Geneva (Switzerland) as a non-profit organization working in the public interest. Its goal is to promote the right to education as a fundamental human right for personal development.

“We’re working on creating an Educational Freedom Index that will look at indicators like a country’s actual ability to build schools through private initiative, as well as possible sources of funding, placing special importance on the quality of secondary school education”, explained Fernández.

OIDEL’s work is modelled on Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and on Article 13 of the UN’s International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. OIDEL was founded in 1985 by 40 political figures, education experts and parents of students.

The organization’s biannual report illustrates the most notable cases in each country, trends in education (school construction on public land), and practices that are worthwhile for the State, such as Lombardy’s school voucher programme and the experience of “uncontracted schools” underwritten by foundations. “In many cases, the State pays civil society and, in addition, lowers the taxes on these public-interest initiatives. And this is because the right to an education is universal, but the way education is provided is not always universal.”

Alfred Fernández holds a PhD in Philosophy from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He is the General Director of OIDEL, an NGO with consultative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. For over 20 years, he has coordinated the NGO’s platform on the Right to Education. OIDEL depends on the expert advice of a network of lawyers, economists, academics and heads of educational institutions in Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, the Czech Republic, El Salvador, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.