"Achieving the right to education for all is one of the biggest challenges of our times. The second International Development Goal addresses this challenge: universalizing primary education in all countries by 2015. This is also one of the main objectives set at the World Education Forum (April 2000), where the right to basic education for all was reaffirmed as a fundamental human right.

The fundamental question is how the obligations relating to the right to education undertaken by Member States under international and regional instruments are incorporated into national legal systems? This is all the more important for achieving the Dakar goals, in keeping with the commitments made by Governments for providing education for all, especially free and compulsory quality basic education. But in spite of such legal obligations and political commitments, millions of children still remain deprived of educational opportunities, many of them on account of poverty. They must have access to basic education as of right, in particular to primary education which must be free. Poverty must not be a hindrance and the claim by the poor to such education must be recognized and reinforced."

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RTE's background paper for the Global Education Monitoring Report 2017/8: Accountability in education: Meeting our commitments.

The purpose of the paper is to show how a human rights-based approach offers insights and practical solutions to address the accountability deficits found in both education policy decision-making and implementation, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Specifically, the paper argues that a human rights-based approach to accountability can bolster public policy accountability by defining the responsibilities of authorities, ensuring they are answerable for actions regarding those responsibilities, and how they can be subject to forms of enforceable sanctions or remedial action for failures to carry out those responsibilities.

As the national government is the primary duty bearer for the right to education it is important for any report on accountability to start with the responsibilities of government. The paper provides an overview of the right to education legal framework to which States have legally committed, as well existing international and regional accountability mechanisms.

The paper then explores the connections between the 2030 Agenda, the Incheon Declaration, and human rights law. The Incheon Declaration affirms, ‘the vision and political will reflected in numerous international and regional human rights treaties that stipulate the right to education and its interrelation with other human rights” (para. 2). In the Declaration education is framed as both a “public good” and a “fundamental human right” (para. 5). However, whether a rights-based approached is consistent or present in the operationalisation of SDG4 has not been clearly debated. Part of this challenge is the diluted and often, overly simplistic notion of what the right to education entails. The paper seeks to better understand the similarities and differences of these two large global frames for education and includes a matrix that links the normative content of each framework. This matrix shows that the content of each is largely aligned, even if the processes are not. The paper argues that by recasting the content of SDG4 as part of the right to education, the legal obligations owed to that content can be invoked. This renders various elements of SDG4, if the state in question has legally committed to the right to education and incorporated the right to education in their domestic legal orders, amenable to adjudication by competent mechanisms, offering the possibility of legal accountability through legal enforcement.

The second half of the paper explores the prevalence of the right to education in national laws and the conditions necessary for the right to education to be successfully adjudicated at the national level. It provides an overview of how countries have incorporated the right to education in their domestic legal orders, as well as a list of countries where the right to education is justiciable. This is complemented by a series of case studies that draw out the requirements for successful adjudication at the national level.

At the national level the incorporation and implementation of the right to education, as required by international treaties, requires at least three stages. Firstly, countries must translate their international legal commitment into concrete action to ensure the full enjoyment of the right to education. This includes the incorporation of the right to education into the domestic legal order, through the adoption of education laws and policies. Secondly, countries must secure the right to education as a justiciable right. Lastly, the justiciable right to education must be able to be adjudicated fairly through the judicial system. Whilst the first stage is completed at a near universal level by countries, the final two stages, essential for the fulfilment of the right to education, are achieved by significantly fewer countries. Even when justiciability is present, various barriers may be present that hinder the adjudication of the right to education. Understanding how countries move from incorporation to application and implementation is essential to understanding whether the right to education is truly realised in a country. Our analysis shows that legal enforcement, through mechanisms competent to hold duty-bearers legally accountable, has a positive impact on the realisation of the right to education. Furthermore, little is known about how the political, social, and cultural context of a country limits or enables the adjudication of the right to education. This paper examines court cases from countries around the world to identify the conditions that enable the right to education to be realised through adjudication.

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Ce rapport met en lumière les obligations internationales ainsi que les engagements politiques concernant la promotion de ces aspects du système éducatif. Il analyse les normes et les règles élaborées dans le cadre des instruments internationaux et souligne l’importance d’une action normative au niveau national pour maximiser l’incidence de l’enseignement et de la formation techniques et professionnels sur le développement social et économique et sur l’autonomisation.

Le Rapporteur spécial met l’accent sur la spécificité du droit à l’enseignement et à la formation techniques et professionnelle et passe en revue les cadres juridiques et politiques nationaux en évolution. Il souligne la nécessité de garantir la qualité de cette formation et les responsabilités des différents acteurs impliqués dans sa mise en œuvre. Le rapport aborde aussi la question de l’importance de l’enseignement et de la formation techniques et professionnels eu égard à l’objectif de l’« Éducation pour tous » post-2015 et aux programmes de développement correspondant et propose en conclusion une série de recommandations. 



The report was published in July 2020 by the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Koumbou Boly Barry. 

The obligation of States to ensure that educational facilities within their jurisdictions meet human rights standards requires a clear understanding of the synergies between the right to education and other human rights, and ways of further promoting the integration of those rights into practices. 

In the present report, the Special Rapporteur on the right to education focuses on the interrelations between the right to education and the rights to water and sanitation, including hygiene and menstrual health and hygiene. She explores situations in which the failure to respect, protect and fulfil the rights to water and sanitation in education institutions impedes the realization of the right to education. She underlines that, conversely, the rights to water and sanitation, like many other human rights, cannot be fully implemented without the realization of the right to education, which enables people’s understanding, agency and autonomy in those areas. 

The report contains guidelines for the provision of water and sanitation in educational settings, for the realization of the right to education. The final section of the report contains recommendations for stakeholders.

For more information, you can also consult the factsheet of the report.  



Cette fiche d’information est basée sur le rapport sur les interrelations entre le droit à l'éducation et les droits à l'eau et à l'assainissement, y compris l'hygiène et la santé menstruelle. Il a été publié par la Rapporteuse Spéciale sur le droit à l'éducation qui entend construire une approche holistique des droits de l'homme, et souligne que les droits à l'eau et à l'assainissement sont des conditions préalables à l'efficacité du droit à l'éducation.

Le document présente les différentes problématiques liées au sujet, donne des données utiles et propose une série de lignes directrices que les États et les acteurs responsables devraient suivre.

Ce rapport a été publié en Juillet 2020 par la Rapporteuse Spéciale sur le droit à l’éducation, Koumbou Boly Barry.  

L’obligation qu’ont les États de veiller à ce que les établissements d’enseignement relevant de leur juridiction respectent les normes relatives aux droits humains exige une bonne compréhension des synergies qui existent entre le droit à l’éducation et les autres droits de la personne, ainsi que des moyens de promouvoir davantage l’intégration de ces droits dans les pratiques. 

Dans ce rapport, la Rapporteuse spéciale sur le droit à l’éducation souligne l’importance des interrelations entre le droit à l’éducation et les droits à l’eau et à l’assainissement, notamment l’hygiène et la santé et l’hygiène menstruelle. Elle explore les situations dans lesquelles le fait que les droits à l’eau et à l’assainissement ne soient ni respectés, ni protégés, ni réalisés dans les établissements d’enseignement entrave la réalisation du droit à l’éducation. Elle souligne qu’inversement, les droits à l’eau et à l’assainissement, comme beaucoup d’autres droits humains, ne peuvent être pleinement mis en œuvre sans la réalisation du droit à l’éducation, lequel permet aux gens de comprendre, d’agir et d’être autonomes dans ces domaines. 

Le rapport contient des lignes directrices relatives à la fourniture de services d’eau et d’assainissement dans les établissements scolaires, en vue de la réalisation du droit à l’éducation. La dernière section du rapport contient des recommandations formulées à l’intention des parties prenantes.

Pour plus d’information, vous pouvez également consulter la fiche d’information du rapport. 



This factsheet is based on the report of the Special rapporteur on the right to education on the interrelations between the right to education and the rights to water and sanitation which intends to build a holistic approach on human rights, and highlights that rights to water and sanitation are prerequisites for the efficiency of the right to education.

The document presents the different issues related to the subject, gives useful datas, and proposes a range of guidelines that states and responsible stakeholders should follow.


La Convention relative aux droits de l'enfant (CIDE) s'applique aux enfants de moins de 18 ans. Elle reconnaît l'éducation comme un droit à chaque enfant sur la base de l'égalité des chances. Son article 28 garantit la gratuité de l'enseignement primaire obligatoire pour tous, la gratuité progressive de l'enseignement secondaire qui devrait en tout état de cause être disponible et accessible à tous, et l'accessibilité à l'enseignement supérieur en fonction des capacités. Il énonce l'obligation de l'État de prendre des mesures concernant la fréquentation scolaire. Elle encourage la coopération internationale en matière d'éducation, en particulier l'élimination de l'analphabétisme et la favorisation de l'accès aux connaissances scientifiques et techniques. Son article 29 définit les objectifs de l'éducation et reconnaît également la liberté des parents de choisir le type d'éducation qu'ils veulent donner à leurs enfants et la liberté de créer et de diriger des établissements d'enseignement, conformément aux normes minimales fixées par l'État.
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Education is a fundamental human right of every woman, man and child. In states’ efforts to meet their commitments to making the right to education a reality for all, most have made impressive progress in recent decades. With new laws and policies that remove fees in basic education, significant progress has been made in advancing free education. This has led to tens of millions of children enrolling for the first time and the number of out of school children and adolescents falling by almost half since 2000. Important steps have also been taken with regard to gender parity and states have made efforts to raise the quality of education through improved teacher policies and a growing emphasis on learning outcomes. 

Despite these efforts, breaches of the right to education persist worldwide, illustrated perhaps most starkly by the fact that 262 million primary and secondary-aged children and youth are still out of school. Girls, persons with disabilities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds or rural areas, indigenous persons, migrants and national minorities are among those who face the worst discrimination, affecting both their right to go to school and their rights within schools.

To respond to the challenges, the Right to Education Initiative (RTE) with UNESCO have developed this handbook to guide action on ensuring full compliance with the right to education. Its objective is not to present the right to education as an abstract, conceptual, or purely legal concept, but rather to be action-oriented. The handbook will also be an important reference for those working towards the achievement of SDG4, by offering guidance on how to leverage legal commitment to the right to education as a strategic way to achieve this goal.