To help start the conversation and keep the focus of this discussion thread, please consider the following questions:
- What is the right to education? How is it defined and protected by international law?
- How is the right to education connected to the rights of the child other human rights?
Share your experiences, thoughts, ideas and questions by adding a comment below or replying to existing comments!
You can find lots of useful information, including a comprehensive definition of the right to education, at the website of the Right to Education Project: http://www.right-to-education.org/node/233
Article 24, Section E of the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child specifically states:
"To ensure that all segments of society, in particular parents and children, are informed, have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breastfeeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents;"
UNICEF has a lot of great information on the Convention as well as some great photo essays: http://www.unicef.org/crc/index_framework.html
Thank you Bobbi Kay and Duncan for starting this conversation on how we define the Right to Education. I found more information (on the Right to Education Project website) on how the Right to Education is defined by international treaties in addition to the Rights of the Child defined by Bobbie Kay above.
The right to education has been recognised since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. Article 26 of the Declaration proclaims that:
Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory…education shall be directed to the full development of human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among racial or religious groups…
The right to education has been enshrined in a range of international conventions, including
It has also been incorporated into various regional treaties:
The main human rights instrument of the African Union guarantees the rights to human rights education in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights: " States Parties of the present Charter shall have the duty to promote and ensure through teaching, education and publication, the respect of the rights and freedoms contained in the present Charter and to see to it that these freedoms and rights as well as corresponding obligations and duties are understood..." (Article 25)
This Additional Protocol was adopted in 1988 and entered into force on November 16, 1999. It focuses on the state's obligation to promote social, economic, and cultural human rights, including the right to education. It demonstrates that states may fulfill these obligations through enacting legislation, enforcing measures of protection, and refrain from discrimination.
How do you define the right to education?
Thanks Kristin for again highlighting the Right to Education Project website. In defining the right to education, a critical point they make is that the right to education is also an “enabling” right, that is, it enables people to develop those necessary skills, as well as the capacity and confidence to secure other human rights. And as specified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Education, education ‘creates the “voice” through which rights can be claimed and protected’ and without education people lack the capacity to ‘to achieve valuable functionings as part of the living’.
Paulo Freire, in 'Education: The Practice of Freedom' (1973) echoes these same ideas. "To acquire literacy … is to dominate those techniques [reading and writing] in terms of consciousness; to understand what one reads and to write what one understands: it is to communicate graphically. Acquiring literacy … involve[s] … an attitude of creation and re-creation, a self-transformation producing a stance of intervention in one's context."
Education is essential therefore in order for people to be able to claim all human rights.
The right to education is contained in many international treaties. Of the nine core UN human rights treaties, it is contained in six of them, but the primary source on the right to education is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Articles 13 & 14 (http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cescr.htm#art13). Article 13 breaks down the right to education accordingly:
Article 13 spells out our rights, but does little to explain what this right truly means. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) General Comment 13, which can be found at this site http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G99/462/16/PDF/G9946216.pdf?.OpenElement, provides a normative definition of the right to education, expressed as the 4 As, and it also provides details regarding States' obligations on the right to education. Briefly, the 4 As can be summed up as follows:
Availability – that education is free and government-funded and that there is adequate infrastructure and trained teachers able to support education delivery.
Accessibility – that the system is non- discriminatory and accessible to all, and that positive steps are taken to include the most marginalised.
Acceptability – that the content of education is relevant, non-discriminatory and culturally appropriate, and of good quality; that the school itself is safe and teachers are professional.
Adaptability – that education can evolve with the changing needs of society and contribute to challenging inequalities, such as gender discrimination, and that it can be adapted locally to suit specific contexts.
Thanks to all who have quoted our website. Please feel free to explore the definition and qualities of the right to education more at www.right-to-education.org.
It's interesting that you quoted CRC Article 24. I was just chatting with a colleague about how much 'education' is prevalent in international human rights treaties, especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. CRC Article 24 is the provision on the right to health, which includes a component on the right to health education. The reason for this provision is perhaps obvious - that in order for children to fully enjoy the right to health, they and their carers must benefit from health education.
In the CRC, Article 28 conveys the right to education. But we should not forget that other rights contain 'educating components', which are essential to the realisation of those rights.
The structure and stability of education can give children, their families, and communities’ resilience and hope in the future. Postponing education provision until ‘the conflict is over’ (like in the situation here in Pakistan) can mean that many children and girls in particular will never attend school again. They may not learn to read, write, or count, and burdened with adult roles and left without the opportunity to play, the development of other essential life skills is hampered. Uneducated children are vulnerable to a future of poverty and violence, and lack the more complex skills needed to contribute to their society’s reconstruction and development.
Peace education is an essential component of quality basic education. Peace education is the process of promoting the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to bring about behavior changes that will enable children, youth and adults to prevent conflict and violence, both overt and structural; to resolve conflict peacefully; and to create the conditions conducive to peace, whether at an intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup, national or international level. Many International NGOs, National NGOs and Local NGOS have implemented many projects on Peace Education, Human Rights Education sessions with students and teachers in both public and private schools and colleges at district Swat in the post conflict scenario.
The right to education is a right in itself, and it is also an "enabling" right. Access to education enables a person to gain the skills, capacity and confidence to secure other rights, such as the right to organize, the right to participate in your government, the right to think what you want, the right to work, and many others. The connection between the right to education and other human rights have already been mentioned in the dialogue.
As Amjad Ali notes above:
Similarly, Ana Svoren points out in her comment:
In your experience, how is the right to education connected to the rights of the child and other human rights? What does this connection mean for the realization of access to quality education for all children?
Thank you for your participation in this dialogue! We look forward to learning more about your experiences and ideas!
Fundamental human right of a quality education for all children is most at risk during conflict situations. It is precisely at these times that education can impart knowledge and skills that provide protection and access to life-saving abilities. In the longer term, education can provide values and attitudes that offer the basis for addressing the multiple drivers of conflict. It is a realization that many of the world’s out of school children were and are located in conflict zones and therefore achieving the Education for All objectives, and the educational Millennium Development Goals are dependent on addressing educational access and quality in conflict affected countries
Peace building is central to achieving progress in the Millennium Development Goals and education is a core component in building sustainable peace.
While addressing children rights to education, emphasis should be given to:
cultural issues; possibilities for agreement among legislation, political decisions and practices; home and school co-operation; children’s experiences of their rights; inclusion and integration in education for students with special needs; rights of students and parents when receiving special needs support; financial considerations for special needs education; curricular guides and practices fostering rights and full development; education toward democracy; ways for students to express their views and achieve influence; and expectations and demands for teachers and parents
As a human rights practitioner we have to give attention to the following themes relevant to advancing children rights to education Rights. In this role, they collectively had the responsibility for attending each session and for being
• Each child is a bearer of rights;
• Education is a right of each child and not a privilege;
• Society is obligated specifically and generally to fulfill all rights of the child in and through education;
• The purposes of education embodied in Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child can and must be operationalized;
• The child’s participation and full development must be supported in all educational goals, settings and practices;
• Respect for the rights of the child should promote the present and future quality of life of the Schools must respect the human rights of all persons in order to effectively achieve the rights of the child;
• Education and learning must be pursued in and beyond school settings in deliberate, coordinated ways;
• Existing identifiable barriers to implementation of the child’s rights to education can be overcome;
• Education must respect individual, contextual and cultural differences;
• Special needs and ‘inclusive’ schooling embodies moral principles, realities and fantasies that must be understood;
• Long-term cost-benefit analyses of education must be applied by governments in prioritizing resource use;
• Teacher preparation, parent education and the ability of children to educate must be strengthened;
• Rights require more than legal support—a moral imperative must be manifest at all levels of society
Thank you for highlighting that the fundamental human right of a quality education for all children is most at risk during conflict situations. It is precisely at these times that education can impart knowledge and skills that provide protection and access to life-saving abilities. In the longer term, education can provide values and attitudes that offer the basis for addressing the multiple drivers of conflict. It is a realization that many of the world’s out of school children were and are located in conflict zones and therefore achieving the Education for All objectives, and the educational Millennium Development Goals are dependent on addressing educational access and quality in conflict affected countries.
Often it is forgotten in situations of conflict, extreme hardship and displacement that children need to continue receiving their education. Disrupting yet another part of their already difficult lives can have long term phsychological impacts too, in addition to denying the knowledge and skills that they need and deserve during their development. Amjad you make a critical point here that education during conflict can be life-saving - both physically and mentally.
The right to education is very broad and encompasses all types of education, but the right to free and compulsory primary education is the top priority. Therefore, it is a central issue for children as an essential part of their right to develop fully. All human rights are inter-related and interdependent, but some other rights that have a direct link to the right to education, include:
There are also a number of rights issues that serve as barriers to the right to education or affect the enjoyment of this right - violence and conflict (there have been some good examples of this elaborated by others in this thread), corporal punishment, exploitation or abuse, deprivation of liberty (e.g., imprisonment), etc.... even the right to a name / nationality can affect the enjoyment to the right to education. So, sometimes the barrier is related to another human rights issue. In order to tackle these barriers, we need to examine the right to education wholistically and sometimes in conjunction with other human rights.
Access to a quality education is regarded as a right that should be maintained even in the most difficult circumstances. In the midst of conflict it can provide knowledge and skills that provide protection, while in the longer term, it can provide values and attitudes that offer a basis for transforming conflict itself. Education is deeply implicated in processes of socialization and identity formation, which are vital for economic growth and individual and national advancement and can act as an important vehicle for social cohesion.
Right to education brings equality, justice and parity in society. No rights can sustain without awareness and awareness can only come from education. Thus Right to education is a part of right to life itself. Without education, there cannot be dignity and therefore the Right to Education is implicit in the responsibilities and notion of the "welfare state" itself.
Access to education also empowers and develops confidence in a child. Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says,
1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.