Today sees the launch of the third incarnation of the Right to Education website. It has been re-conceived and re-designed based on feedback from users around the world but its core function as the definitive global resource on the right to education remains unchanged. With the right to education violated with impunity or under threat in so many places, it has never been more important to have a resource that is easy to use, clarifying what the right to education entails and sharing how diverse actors can work together to ensure that all dimensions of the right are respected, protected and fulfilled.
The Right to Education website was originally developed in the early 2000s by the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Katarina Tomaševski. She observed that there was no public access resource devoted solely to the right to education and so she collected in one place all the diverse international instruments guaranteeing the right to education as well the constitutional provisions of every country.
In 2007, suffering from a terminal illness, Katarina approached ActionAid to take over the web-site and to run it in coordination with Amnesty International and the Global Campaign for Education.* The site was significantly expanded and re-launched in 2008 with an ambition to act as a bridge between the human rights community and education campaigners, linking legal action and social mobilisation. The re-vamped site included a country database, critical information about the most excluded and vulnerable groups and sections on campaigning and education financing. Practical guidelines were included around identifying and taking action on violations. The huge ambition of the site made it an invaluable reference point – but also meant it was sometimes difficult to navigate.
Today the site is re-born again, transformed to be more user-friendly, re-designed to work on mobile phones and tablets, updated to inter-face with social media and refreshed with modern branding and style. Most importantly the web-site has listened to its immensely diverse users. Over 250,000 people visited the site in 2013 (five times more than in 2009), coming from all regions of the world and accessing the site in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. You the users are human rights lawyers, NGO workers, government officials, donors, academics, students, campaigners and activists. The new site has been designed to help each group find what they want more easily, layering carefully on each topic so that key information is instantly available whilst detailed information can be easily accessed through links, resources and downloadable documents.
At its core the website helps users to understand education from a human rights perspective; it lists the diverse international instruments that guarantee the right to education; offers guidance to look at the implementation of the right to education at national level; focuses on important right to education issues and shares tools that help people to take action to promote, monitor and litigate the right to education.
We have made every effort to avoid duplicating the work of other websites, so, for example, we have liaised with UNESCO who is shortly launching an updated country database on the right to education. We have also worked closely with the Global Campaign for Education to connect with civil society coalitions around the world and to host a multi-lingual on-line discussion forum where people can share experiences and connect across countries.
In addition, you will find news stories related to the right to education, blog posts discussing right to education issues and success stories showing how civil society has used a human rights based approach to advance the right to education. The first success story uploaded is from South Africa where Section27 held the State accountable for not providing textbooks in poor rural area of the country.
This is now designed as a site that will be constantly refreshed. We will be adding more content and resources all the time. For example, new pages on education in emergencies, adult education and the right of minorities and indigenous people will be published soon. Whilst initially re-launched in English, refreshed versions in French, Spanish and Arabic will follow soon.
You are now able to subscribe to the Right to Education Project e-Bulletin and get regular updates in your inbox. You can also contact RTE to seek advice or draw on their support for capacity development around the right to education.
This unique resource aims to be responsive to your needs and interests, so let us know if you identify any gaps or want more focus on particular issues. Please share your own experiences of rights-based work, of innovative legal action or new developments in your country that have significant implications for the right to education. Together we can make progress on promoting and protecting the right to education!
David Archer is Head of Programme Development with ActionAid, a board member of the Global Campaign for Education and is the elected representative for Northern civil society on the board of the Global Partnership for Education. He was previously Head of Education at ActionAid for many years and has written extensively on human rights based approaches to education.
Since 2008 he has hosted the Right to Education Project in ActionAid and he sits on its Steering Committee.