According to UNESCO, 264 million children and youth are still out of school around the world, and this is only accounting for the primary (61 million) and secondary school (203 million) age population. In particular, the poorest and most marginalised, including ethnic and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, girls, and populations experiencing conflict, are often systematically unable to access and complete a full cycle of quality education. The first volume of NORRAG Special Issue (NSI) is dedicated to examining international frameworks and national policy as well as the challenges of fulfilling the right to education in practice.

The inaugural issue of NSI on the Right to Education Movements and Policies: Promises and Realities aims to highlight the global and national level experience and perspective on guaranteeing the right to education, as outlined in international frameworks, national constitutions, legislation, and policy, when creating the required administrative structures to ensure that the right is respected, protected, and fulfilled for all.

The Issue is divided into six parts, each focusing on a specific theme of right to education policy and practice. The first part includes an article written by RTE staff on The Role of Court Decisions in the Realisation of the Right to Education, which draws on RTE's background paper on accountability for the GEM Report 2017-8.

 

Of the 57 million children worldwide without access to education, over one third lives in settings of conflict and fragility (UNESCO, 2015). The escalating crisis in Syria has contributed significantly to this out-of-school population, with well over half of 1.4 million Syrian refugee children and adolescents not in school (UNICEF, 2016). While education in emergencies has risen as a policy priority in the mandates of international organizations (Menashy and Dryden-Peterson, 2015), the share of total overseas development assistance to education has declined sharply in recent years, with funding persistently low in conflict-affected states (UNESCO, 2015; 2016). Within this context, private sector engagement in education has become increasingly appealing to a growing portion of the international community. Private actors have responded in turn, spurring new initiatives, funding commitments and partnership arrangements to advance the cause of educating refugee children. Such commitments are indicative of the growing role of private entities as both educational funders and providers in contexts of crisis. This study explores the complex interrelationship between conflict and private sector participation through a case study of the education of Syrian refugees. It is estimated that 900,000 Syrian refugee children and adolescents are not enrolled in school, with enrolment rates for Syrian refugees at only 70% in Jordan, 40% in Lebanon, and 39% in Turkey (UNHCR, 2016b).  Although private engagement in this context is evidently expanding, the exact nature and scale of this involvement has been unclear. This research seeks to better understand which private entities are engaging in the sector, the activities through which private companies and foundations support education, and the rationales and motivations that drive their involvement.

In Lebanon—a country of around 4.5 million citizens—almost one in four people today is a refugee. Since the start of the Syria conflict in 2011, 1.1 million Syrians have registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the Lebanese Government puts the total number at 1.5 million.

In countries across the globe from Afghanistan to Colombia to India to Mali to Turkey to Yemen and on, students, teachers, and educational facilities are under siege. Targeted killings, rape, abduction, child recruitment, intimidation, threats, military occupation, and destruction of property are just some of the ways in which education is being attacked.

Between 2013 and 2017, there were more than 12,700 attacks, harming more than 21,000 students and educators in at least 70 countries. In 28 countries profiled in this report, at least 20 attacks on education occurred over the last 5 years.

In spite of the impressive indicators regarding education enrolment and attendance in the occupied Palestinian territoty, access to quality education remains significantly compromised. The educational process has been obstructed and interrupted, and the dignity and safety of students and teaching staff violated in the process. The primary responsibility for this lies with the conflicting parties that continue and prolong a situation of protracted conflict and humanitarian crisis. These violations do not appear as isolated incidents or the unintended consequences of policies and budgetary constraints. Rather, they are the result of systematic targeting and legal discrimination at the levels of the legislature, government, judiciary and the military.

This report does not in itself attempt to document and analyse these violations and systematically document discrimination. Rather, it offers a methodology for how to monitor, analyse and report on the situation. It does so by offering both concepts and tools to allow us to understand, identify and access the relevant legal frameworks and mechanisms that may serve to address violations and bring about change.

The report builds in part on a series of interviews and workshops, conducted in 2011 in both Ramallah and Gaza City under the auspices of UNESCO. These workshops and other informational meetings allowed the Right to Education Initiative to engage in substantial capacity building regarding the human rights approach and to set the scene for the initial stages of a constructive dialogue. The hope is that this report may contribute to renewed action in three main directions: an understanding of the importance of using IHRL to support the Palestinian education system; an inclusion of IHRL into existing advocacy strategies; and an improvement regarding the way education policies and programmes are made.

In 2018, the international community will meet to adopt a new Global Compact on Refugees; a product of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The Compact promises that ‘all refugee children will be in school and learning within a few months of arrival’ and commits to ‘prioritise budgetary provision to facilitate this, including support for host countries as required’. The opportunity to advance this agenda is now. However, commitments without actionable plans do not deliver results.  

The report ‘Time to act: a costed plan to deliver quality education to every last refugee child’ sets out a realistic, global plan to ensure refugee children get to go to school. Save the children challenges governments and international agencies to deliver on the promises they have made with practical action.

Education is the right of every child. It empowers children to thrive. It helps promote greater civic engagement and peaceful communities. It is the most effective investment against child poverty and one of the best economic investments a country can make. This is why every child should be in school. Every child must have access to quality education, so they can fulfill their potential. In the State of Palestine, very few children of primary school age are excluded from education, but nearly five per cent of 10-15-year-old children and one out of three 6-9 year-olds with disabilities are out of school. The aim of this study is to identify who these excluded children are, where they live, and to understand why they are not in school.
 
Based on a global initiative led by UNICEF and UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, it aims at providing a more in-depth analysis, using a unique conceptual and methodological framework to develop comprehensive profiles of out-of-school children and link them to the barriers and bottlenecks that led to school drop-out. It takes into consideration a variety of factors such as socio-economic factors, the quality of education, and the influence of the environment, the community and the school. This study aims not only at understanding what barriers and bottlenecks prevent access to school, but also at taking action about it. Based on research findings, it proposes practical ways of removing these barriers to get children back to school, and to keep the children who are at risk of dropping out in school. By promoting and implementing sound policies that address exclusion, we can make a substantial and sustainable reduction in the number of out of school children.

Attacks on education by the insurgent group Boko Haram have caused horrific and long-term suffering for female students and teachers in northeastern Nigeria. Boko Haram has abducted over 600 girls and young women from school during the nine-year conflict, with some held in captivity for years, and many experiencing harmful repercussions long after they return home.

The 106-page report, “‘I Will Never Go Back to School’: Impact of Attacks on Education for Nigerian Women and Girls,” is based on interviews with 119 victims and eyewitnesses of attacks on schools and education, including survivors of the three largest school abductions in Nigeria: Chibok (April 2014), Damasak (November 2014), and Dapchi (February 2018). Women and girls speak out about their terrifying experiences, including forced conversion to Islam, forced “marriage,” rape, and other physical and psychological violence, in the report.

In this present report, the Special Rapporteur considers ways in which the right to education contributes to the prevention of atrocity crimes and mass or grave human rights violations. Stressing that education has a key role to play at all stages of prevention, the Special Rapporteur underlines the particularly forceful preventive potential of the right to education in the very early stages, before warning signs are apparent. That role is to be linked with the aims of education and the right to inclusive and equitable quality education, as established in international instruments.
 
Peace, acceptance of the “other”, respect for cultural diversity, the participation of all in the development of society and an education that is adequate and adapted to the specific needs of people in their own context are objectives of education that have been widely recognized by States and in human rights mechanisms at the international and regional levels. However, education is not afforded the importance or the funding it deserves and needs in order to play those roles.
 
The Special Rapporteur, highlighting circumstances under which schools can become tools for division and lay the groundwork for future violent conflicts, focuses on a number of steps regarding the organization of school systems, pedagogy and the values and skills to be transmitted to learners that are crucial in terms of prevention. She proposes an education framework (known in English as the “ABCDE framework”) that encompasses the interrelated features of education needed in order for the preventive potential of the right to education to be fully deployed. Namely, education should promote acceptance of self and others; a sense of belonging to society; critical thinking; diversity; and the capacity of learners to feel empathy for others. The right to inclusive and equitable quality education must be taken seriously and be prioritized if States and other stakeholders are serious in their commitment to prevent violent conflicts, atrocity crimes and mass or grave human rights violations

UNESCO’s 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report, Migration, displacement and education: Building bridges not walls, highlights countries’ achievements and shortcomings in ensuring the right of migrant and displaced children to benefit from a quality, inclusive education, a right that serves the interests of both learners and the communities they live in. 

Read the report, here.

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