A Statement of Rights and Commitment
At MFIS we have long believed that parents have a right to choose the type of schooling that is best for their children. In 1997, the Board of Directors of MFIS adopted the following statement with respect to this belief:
A STATEMENT OF RIGHTS AND COMMITMENT
The parents of Manitoba who opt for an independent school education for their children are exercising rights defended by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Rights, the Supreme Court of Canada, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Rights under article 26, (to which Canada was a signatory) states, “Parents have the prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” In its definition of “LIBERTY” the Supreme Court of Canada acknowledges that it is “a parent’s right to bring up his/her child(ren) in accordance with her/his conscientious beliefs.”
Furthermore, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (to which Manitoba is a signatory) explicitly affirms the “liberty of parents to choose for their children schools other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down or approved by the State,” and “to ensure the religious and moral education of their children is in conformity with their own convictions.” The signatories of the Covenant also agreed that elementary education, which is from Kindergarten to grade 8, “must be free and available to all.” In this international Covenant, the provinces of Canada also promise to adopt “such legislative or other practical measures that are needed to give force and effect to these rights.” It is reasonable to assume, then, that access to tax dollars is one of the “measures that are needed to give force and effect to these rights.”
The MFIS is committed to the goal of defending and promoting the parents’ right to choose the education for her/his/their child(ren) as guaranteed to them in Declarations of Rights and other international covenants.
The MFIS recognizes that Government has a role to play in protecting the right of the child to an education and to ensure that the minimum standards set by the Province are met.
The MFIS member schools are unique in that they reflect and serve particular constituencies with a particular philosophical/religious perspective. That uniqueness must be acknowledged and respected.
The MFIS member schools seek to serve the public good; the MFIS member schools prepare students to take their place as educated and responsible citizens in a democratic and pluralistic society.
[Adopted by the MFIS Board of Directors in January, 1997.]
This Statement of Rights and Commitment still lies at the core of our Federation’s beliefs. The principles outlined here guide me in my actions as your Executive Director and the deliberations of your Board of Directors. We in Manitoba are fortunate in that the government of Manitoba through the funding agreement of 1996 has recognized the right of parents to exercise choice in selecting the school best suited to their children’s needs, faith, hopes and aspirations.
While not perfect, the current funding agreement with the province of Manitoba provides funding to our schools at the level of 50% of the per pupil public school divisions’ net operating expenditures - $5,447 per eligible student for the 2015-2016 school year. In return for this recognition, MFIS schools have agreed to comply with a number of regulatory and curriculum requirements set by the province. We at MFIS work closely with the province’s Independent Education Unit and the Finance Branch to ensure that both the spirit and letter of the funding agreement are maintained. For example, members of your Board and I will meet on an annual basis with representatives of the Finance Branch to ensure that we have a clear understanding of the calculation of the provincial grant.
While we accept in the Statement of Rights and Commitment above that “Government has a role to play in protecting the right of the child to an education and to ensure that the minimum standards set by the Province are met,” we also believe that we must be constantly vigilant that the regulations and standards set by the province continue to allow our schools to exercise their independence and thereby preserve their unique philosophy and perspective. We must continue to remind those in government that not all regulations and mandates need to apply to our schools. The Board of Directors will continue to work on your behalf to assist in maintaining the independence of our schools.
Serving Manitoba’s Funded Independent Schools,