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4.3.2. Article 42 of the Constitution

1. The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children.

2. Parents shall be free to provide this education in their homes or in private schools or in schools recognised or established by the State.

3.1 The State shall not oblige parents in violation of their conscience and lawful preference to send their children to schools established by the State, or to any particular type of school designated by the State.

3.2 The State shall, however, as guardian of the common good, require in view of actual conditions that the children receive a certain minimum education, moral, intellectual and social.

4. The State shall provide for free primary education and shall endeavour to supplement and give reasonable aid to private and corporate educational initiative, and, when the public good requires it, provide other educational facilities or institutions with due regard, however, for the rights of parents, especially in the matter of religious and moral formation.


  1. Article 42.4 allows for National Schools – primarily funded by the State, with denominational ownership and management – provided that rights of children to religious freedom is not interfered with.
  2. The State allows for faith schools where parents can have single denominational religious indoctrination – privately (not State) funded.
  3. The State shall not force parents to send their children to the National Schools (State schools), provided that the children receive a basic education, whether at home or in private schools.
  4. Article 42.4 provide that the State shall provide free primary education. This provision is fulfilled through the National Schools.
  5. Article 42 provides that parents, if they so wish, can send their children to private schools.
  6. Parents will be free to provided education in their homes, or in private schools, or in schools recognised or established by the State.
  7. The State can insist that all children receive a minimum education, whether provided by the State or by private means.
  8. Article 42.4 is crucial to an understanding of the Constitutional position of the State relating to National Schools – it requires repeated reading to achieve an understanding.
  9. The State shall not provide support for private faith schools in the primary sector.
  10. The State may support private schools (National Schools under denominational ownership and management) – but only under certain conditions.
  11. The “due regard” phrase in Article 42.4 means that the State cannot provide funding for schools which do not provide for the rights of parents, especially in the matter of religious formation.
  12. The State cannot provide support for a school that has a “Catholics First” admissions policy.
  13. A “Catholics First” admissions policy in a National School is not allowed under Article 42 of the Constitution.
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