Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of every person.
Antiquity to Medieval Era 
Although Plato's The Republic is credited with having popularized the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, every parent in Judea since ancient times was required to teach their children at least informally. Over the centuries, as cities, towns and villages developed, a class of teachers called Rabbis evolved. According to the Talmud (tractate Bava Bathra 21a), which praises the sage Joshua ben Gamla with the institution of formal Jewish education in the 1st century AD, Ben Gamla instituted schools in every town and made formal education compulsory from the age of 6 or 7.
Early Modern Era 
During the Reformation in 1524, Martin Luther advocated compulsory schooling so that all parishioners would be able to read the Bible themselves, and Strasbourg—then a free city of the Holy Roman Empire—passed accordant legislation in 1598.
In Scotland, the Reformation prompted the establishment of a national compulsory system of education. The Education Act of 1496 had obliged the children of noblemen and freeholders to attend school, but the School Establishment Act of 1616 commanded every parish with the means to establish a school paid for by parishioners. The Parliament of Scotland confirmed this with the Education Act of 1633 and created a local land-based tax to provide the required funding. The required majority support of parishioners, however, provided a tax evasion loophole which heralded the Education Act of 1646. The turmoil of the age meant that in 1661 there was a temporary reversion to the less compulsory 1633 position. However, in 1696 a new Act re-established the compulsory provision of a school in every parish with a system of fines, sequestration, and direct government implementation as a means of enforcement where required.
Prussia implemented a modern compulsory system in 1763 which was widely recognised and copied. It was introduced by decree of Frederick the Great in 1763-5 and was later expanded in the 19th century. This provided a working model for other states to copy; the clearest example of direct copying is probably Japan in the period of the Meiji Restoration. Prussia introduced this model of education so as to produce more obedient soldiers and serfs. This may be the reason why the Prussian model was also copied the USA..
Modern Era 
United States 
Compulsory school attendance based on the Prussian model gradually spread to other countries, reaching the American State of Massachusetts in 1852, and spreading to other states until, in 1917, Mississippi was the last state to enact a compulsory attendance law. Massachusetts had originally enacted the first compulsory education law in the American colonies in 1647. In 1852, the Massachusetts General Court passed a law requiring every town to create and operate a grammar school. Fines were imposed on parents who did not send their children to school and the government took the power to take children away from their parents and apprentice them to others if government officials decided that the parents were "unfit to have the children educated properly".
Compulsory education was not part of early American society; which relied instead on church-run private schools that mostly charged tuition. The spread of compulsory attendance in the Massachusetts tradition throughout America, especially for Native Americans, has been credited to General Richard Henry Pratt. Pratt used techniques developed on Native Americans in a prisoner of war camp in Fort Marion, Augustine, Florida, to force demographic minorities across America into government schools. His prototype was the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania.
One of the last areas in Europe to adopt a compulsory system was England and Wales, where the Elementary Education Act of 1870 paved the way by establishing school boards to set up schools in any places that did not have adequate provision. Attendance was made compulsory until age 10 in 1880.
Variation in countries 
Some kind of education is compulsory to all people in most countries, but different localities vary in how many years or grades of education they require. Due to population growth and the proliferation of compulsory education, UNESCO calculated in 2006 that over the subsequent 30 years more people would receive formal education than in all prior human history. It is possible in many countries for parents to provide education for children by homeschooling, although this is often monitored for adherence to national standards.
Education is compulsory between the ages of 5 to 17 in every state and territory in Australia. However, this ruling may be waived if the student has decided to pursue full-time employment or full-time education at other such institution (e.g. TAFE- Technical And Further Education).
Education is compulsory between ages 6 to 16 in every province in Canada, except for Ontario and New Brunswick, where the compulsory age is 18. In some provinces, early leaving exemptions can be granted under certain circumstances at 14.
|16-18||Senior high school (middle school)
|12-15||Junior middle school||Yes|
Hong Kong 
There is a twelve-year compulsory education in Hong Kong. Six years of primary education and six years of secondary education were made compulsory in 1978 and 2007 respectively.
Education is compulsory in Egypt between ages 6 to 14.
Education is compulsory between ages 6 to 16.
Education is compulsory in Haiti between ages 6–11, and the Haitian Constitution mandates that education be free of charge. However, even public schools charge substantial fees. 80% of children to go to private schools.
The Indian parliament passed The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act in August 2009, making education free and compulsory for children between 6 and 14.
Every Indonesian citizen is obliged to attend school for 9 years of basic education, from grade 1 elementary school to Grade 9 Junior High School.
In Israel, education is compulsory from kindergarten (age 5) until age 17. Education is free from age 3 to age 18, and under special circumstances until the age of 21. The law is now extending the compulsory age to 3, but it is yet to be implemented widely.
Education is compulsory between ages 6 to 16.
In Malaysia, education is compulsory between ages 7 to 17. The school year is divided into two semesters. The first begins in the beginning of January and ends in June; the second begins in July and ends in December.
In Morocco education is compulsory for children who are 6 years old till the age of 15. The Moroccan government, represented by the Ministry of Education, guarantees free education for all children.
In Poland compulsory education ends at the age of 18. It usually starts when children are 6 years old and ends after 12 years of learning (usually in a high school). Contemporary Polish law distinguishes between compulsory school (obowiązek szkolny) and compulsory education (obowiązek nauki).
The idea of compulsory education was put forward by Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski in 1555. After the partitions of Poland, compulsory education was introduced by Prussian authorities in Polish provinces which belonged to Prussia (1825), and Austrian authorities in Galicia (1873). In the Russian Empire compulsory education did not exist. As a result, in 1921, after Poland regained independence, one-third of the population of the Second Polish Republic was illiterate. Illiteracy was very high in the east, but almost non-existent in western provinces. Compulsory education in Poland was introduced by a decree in February 1919. This covered all children aged 7 to 14. At the beginning, however, the newly created Polish state faced several problems of implementation - a lack of qualified teachers, buildings and funds. After World War Two, compulsory education remained as one of priorities of the state. By 1978, only 1.2 percent of the Polish population was illiterate.
The introduction of a Compulsory Primary Education Act was discussed in the Russian Empire from 1910, but rejected in June 1912. In the first years of the Soviet Union, a massive campaign of eradication of illiteracy ('Likbez') began, with primary education later made compulsory. The 1936 Soviet Constitution declared free education among the other social and economic rights of every citizen.
Eleven years of education up to secondary level has been compulsory in Russia since September 1, 2007. Before 2007 education was limited to nine years, with grades 10-11 optional. Federal subjects of Russia (as education boards) could enforce higher compulsory standards (up to 11 years) in their districts through local legislation permitted by federal program. The Russian government enacted the current system in 2005, modelled on legislation in Altai Krai, Sakha and the Tyumen Oblast. A student 15 to 18 years of age may drop out of school with the approval of a parent and local authority, and without needing consent at age 18. Expulsion from school for multiple violations disrupting school life is possible, starting at age 15.
Compulsory education in Slovenia begins at the age of six and extends until the age of fifteen. After having attended primary school for nine years, pupils customarily continue to pursue some kind of secondary education (vocational schools, technical schools or gymnasiums).
In Singapore, the Compulsory Education Act (Cap 51) was passed by parliament on 9 October 2000 and was assented to the President on 16 October 2000. The statute provides for compulsory primary education for students in Singapore. In accordance to the Act, a child of an age of compulsory education is one who is above the age of 6 years and has not reached the age of 15 years. A child of compulsory school age born after 1 January 1996, and who is a Singapore citizen residing in Singapore must attend a national primary school regularly with the exception of the child being exempted from compulsory education (e.g. a child attending a special needs school or a "religious school" or a child who is being home-schooled). Permission must be granted by the Ministry of Education for such exemptions.
Under the Compulsory Education Act (Cap 51), a child who fails to attend regularly as a student of a national primary school or a designated school/be home-schooled (where exemption is granted), the parents or guardian may be guilty of an offence under the Act. The penalties provided in the Act for a person to be convicted for the offence are a fine not exceeding S$5,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both.
Compulsory education was extended from six years to nine years (typically from age 7 to 15) in 1968 in the Republic of China, effective in Taiwan (both Taipei City and Taiwan Province (which then covered Kaohsiung City)), Kinmen County and Lienchiang County. 10th to 12th grade (senior high school or professional school) is projected to be free and guaranteed (but not compulsory) in 2013.
United Kingdom 
The Elementary Education Act 1870, also known as Forster's Education Act required the creation of local school boards and elementary schools. These boards were responsible for the creation of local by-laws making education compulsory for children aged 5–13. Ten years later the Elementary Education Act 1880 made attendance mandatory from 5–10 years of age.
The Education and Skills Act 2008 will raise the age of compulsory education to 18, but does not take immediate effect. As of 2013, this act raised the age from 16 to 17, and in 2015 it will be raised to 18.
United States 
School attendance is compulsory for most but not all children in the United States, but the age range for which school attendance is required varies from state to state. It begins between the ages of five and eight and ends between age 16 and 18. Some states allow students to leave school between 14–17 with parental permission, before finishing high school; other states require students to stay in school until age 18. Many states do however allow gifted and talented students to accelerate their education so as to finish all educational requirements early.
See also 
- Education Index
- Public education
- Public school (government funded)
- Child Labor
- Anti-schooling activism
- Raising Of School Leaving Age
- Wikipedia: Jewish education#Primary schooling
- Jacques Soustelle (11 November 2002). Daily life of the Aztecs: on the eve of the Spanish Conquest. Courier Dover Publications. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-486-42485-9. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
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- James van Horn Melton. "Absolutism and the Eighteenth-Century Origins of Compulsory Schooling in Prussia and Austria". p. xiv.
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- Schools Kill Creativity. TED Talks, 2006, Monterey, CA, USA.
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- Federal law of Russia "On education", article 19.6
- Federal law of Russia "On education", article 19.4
- Federal law of Russia "On education", article 19.7
- "Compulsory Education in Singapore". Ministry of Education, Singapore. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
- "1870 Education Act". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 2013-05-15.
- "Full text of "The Elementary Education Act, 1870, with introduction, notes, and index, and appendix containing the inforporrated statutes"". Retrieved 2013-05-15.
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- "Education leaving age". Politics.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-15.
- Age range for compulsory school attendance and special education services, and policies on year-round schools and kindergarten programs.. Retrieved November 28, 2009.
Further reading 
- Coleman, J. S., et al. (1966). Equality of Educational Opportunity. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.
- Dunlap, Knight. "Is Compulsory Education Justified?," The American Mercury, February 1929.
- Epstein, R. (2007). Let's abolish high school. Education Week. Retrieved April 18, 2007, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/04/04/31epstein.h26.html
- Gatto, J. T. (2003). The Underground History of American Education. New York: The Oxford Village Press.
- Holt, J. (1974). Escape from childhood. In Noll, J.W. (Ed.), Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Educational Issues (pp. 25–29). Dubuque, IA: McGraw-Hill.
- Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. New York: Harper & Row.
- O'Keeffe, D. (2004). Libertarian Alliance. Compulsory education: An oxymoron of modernity. Retrieved April 16, 2007, from http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/educn/educn036.htm
- Rothbard, M. (1978). Public and compulsory schooling. In For a New Liberty (chap. 7). Retrieved April 12, 2007, from http://www.mises.org/rothbard/newliberty6.asp
- Van Horn Melton, J. (1988). Absolutism and the Eighteenth-Century Origins of Compulsory Schooling in Prussia and Austria Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- West, E. G. (1974). The economics of compulsion. In The Twelve-Year Sentence. Retrieved April 11, 2007, from http://www.ncl.ac.uk/egwest/pdfs/economics%20of%20compulsion.pdf
|Wikisource has the text of the 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article [[s:The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Education, Compulsory|]].|
- The Principle and Practice of Compulsion in Education
- A discussion of compulsory education as a human right (Right to education Project)
- From enforced schooling to self-directed learning A survey and a critique of compulsory education.
- Why Education is Broken Author Isamu Fukui shares his thoughts on the educational system and why it doesn't work.