Compulsory Education Laws 1616
Mark Twain is believed to have never allowed his schooling get in the way of his education. However, as countries have progressed, they have realized the critical value of formal education and have enacted laws to ensure that it is provided.
With the School Establishment Act of 1616, Scotland became the first country to introduce comprehensive compulsory education. A previous Education Legislation of 1496 required all sons of nobles and freeholders of means to attend grammar schools, but the 1616 act required every parish to construct a publicly funded, Church-supervised school, with the goal of promoting Protestantism and eradicating Scottish Gaelic. However, until the Education Acts of 1633 and 1646, which allowed bishops to tax landowners to support schools, the act had limited effectiveness.
More than a century later, King Frederick William I of Prussia commanded that all children “not otherwise provided with instruction” attend village schools, excluding those who had private tutors or went to the gymnasium. Frederick the Great, his son and successor, continued the policy and established the General Regulations for Village Schools in 1763.
Compulsory education regulations in the United States stretch back to the colonial era, but they solely dealt with the establishment and maintenance of free public schools, not with attendance. With the 1852 Compulsory Attendance Act, Massachusetts became the first state to enact a truly compulsory education law, mandating students aged eight to fourteen to attend school for at least three months each year, including at least six consecutive weeks.
Compulsory school attendance did not begin in the United Kingdom or France until the late 1800s. A dominant upper class in Britain did not want to provide the working classes with a ready way of escaping their place, thus it was not adopted until 1880. The stumbling point in France was a battle between religious and secular autho
rity. Jules Ferry, the minister of public education at the time, shepherded two legislation through the legislature in 1880 that established free and obligatory primary education for all children. Free primary education was established in 1881, and compulsory primary education was established in early 1882, eliminating religious instruction and presence in public schools.
The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)