Ivan Illich perspective of deschooling society and the right of education


  • Janaína Freiberger Benkendorf Peixer




Deschooling Society, Right to Education, Models of Education, Human Rights, Homeschooling


For over a century, schools have been able to institutionalize the value behind learning and “earning” an education.  Ivan Illich argues that most learning was not the result of instruction, but of active engagement in a meaningful setting. He questions the system that encourages everyone to access an education that is guided by socio-economic relations, as pre-formatted product. This study aims to investigate if the theory of education proposed by Ivan Illich in Deschooling Society is feasible, legal, and how can it influence the creation of better models of education. The paper addresses the right to education according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to what extent a parent has the ultimate authority to direct a child’s education. Using the review literature methodology, it investigates what is the role of school and what is the proposition of Ivan Illich for an alternative system of education. By reflecting on problems and contradictions of the tradition school system the paper discusses if schools contribute to a more democratic and egalitarian society, or if they reinforce inequalities. As a conclusion, Ivan Illich believes that the biggest obstacle to achieving a society that really educates is the existing imaginary that is conditioned to schooled thinking. Illich advocated for the decentralization of education and the empowerment of individuals to take control of their own learning processes. He promoted informal learning through community-based initiatives, apprenticeships, and self-directed study. This perspective has influenced alternative education movements and contributed to the development of concepts like homeschooling, unschooling, and self-directed learning. Alternative models of education can bring creativity and innovation to the learning process and should be encouraged and celebrated, especially if guided by an emancipatory approach and not by a neoliberal market logic that reinforces inequalities.


BARTLETT, T.; SCHUGURENSKY, D. Deschooling Society 50 Years Later: Revisiting Ivan Illich in the era of COVID-19. Sisyphus. Journal Of Education, v. 8, n. 03, 2020.

HOOKS, B. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge, 1994.

HOLT, J. Freedom and beyond. (1972). Published by HoltGWS, 2017 (online).

HOLT, J. Growing Without Schooling. In: Growing Without Schooling. August, 1977. v. 1.

ILLICH, I. Deschooling Society. London: Marion Boyars Publishers, Ltd., 1970.

TORRES, C. A.; MORROW, R. Critical theory and education: From Frankfurt School to poststructuralism. In: TORRES, C. A.; Morrow, R. Social theory and education: A critique of theories of social and cultural reproduction. SUNY Press, 1995. p. 217-248.

UNITED NATIONS. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. G. A. Res. 217 (III) A, U.N. Doc. A/RES/217(III), Dec. 10, 1948.

WEISHART, J. E. Reconstituting The Right to Education. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-3, Alabama Law Review, West Virginia University, v. 67, n. 4, p. 915-978, 2016.




How to Cite

Peixer, J. F. B. (2024). Ivan Illich perspective of deschooling society and the right of education. STUDIES IN EDUCATION SCIENCES, 5(2), e3986. https://doi.org/10.54019/sesv5n2-003